The hugely anticipated Black Friday is beginning to show signs of shifting to online rather than in store. The frenzy of the biggest day in the retail calendar is so far showing no repeat of last year’s chaos – stores still opened their doors to customers early but the crowds were seemingly much more quiet than the previous year.
Last year’s Black Friday marked a day of chaotic scenes up and down the country with shoppers playing tug-of-war over bargains, websites crashing under the sheer volume of traffic and delivery companies struggling to cope, but this year has been a much quieter start for the high street. Online activity however is said to be up on sales but many retailers are offering a longer period of discounts with some stretching to Cyber Monday. Between the hours of midnight and 1:00am online sales were more than double the figures recorded for last year. According to consultants Experian and online retail group IMRG, todays online purchases are forecast to reach over £1bn for the first time in a single day.
It looks as though Black Friday spending has been a more gradual process this year with some retailers offering discount from as early as Wednesday. Spending has been heavily weighted to online sales, but combined overall the event is likely to end up bigger than last year. The question that remains is, is this the peak of Black Friday in the UK? Last year was the first time UK retailers truly embraced this US tradition, and for many it has simply just spread out the Christmas spending rather than delivering greater profits. If many retailers next year choose to opt out of offering discounts like Asda and Primark this year, the likelihood is that we have now seen the best of Black Friday in the UK.
Let’s see what tonight brings!