Retailers’ fortunes are expected to vary dramatically over Black Friday, which is set to be the biggest yet and generate about £1bn in revenues.
Sales on Black Friday are likely to hit £966m, up from £810m last year. Spending across the rest of the weekend and including Cyber Monday immediately afterwards is expected to take total revenues over the period to at least £2.2bn.
The US-inspired shopping bonanza is expected to result in big winners and losers however. Amazon, Currys, Asos and John Lewis are likely to do best, Panmure Gordon analyst Mike Stewart has forecast in anticipation of shoppers splashing out on electricals, fashion and footwear.
He expected it to be the biggest Black Friday to date because consumer awareness has rocketed alongside retailer participation.
Amazon, which last year sold 64 items per second during the event, has slashed the price of Prime membership by £20 to £59 to steal a march on its rivals and will benefit from its pure-play status. Asos’ online prowess and fashion appeal should also make it a strong performer.
Multichannel retailers such as Currys and John Lewis are expected to be strong performers despite the challenges of also operating store networks, such as facilitating click-and-collect, managing discounts across stores and online, and ensuring security, Stewart believed. Currys, he said, will have negotiated “best-in-class deals” from suppliers and manufacturers.
John Lewis is expected to see demand from customers seeking to take advantage of its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise but it will also benefit from having invested in IT and distribution, as well as recruiting 2,000 extra staff to cope with demand, Stewart said.
However, Stewart said he was “fearful” about whether Argos owner Home Retail can withstand the demands of Black Friday because it has already suffered website problems recently and could face stock availability issues. An Argos spokesman maintained, however, that it would be “highly competitive on Black Friday this year”.
Game could struggle in an environment of “unprecedented” discounting by rivals, Stewart said, while electricals etailer Ao could suffer from relatively low brand awareness and Google search rankings, according to Stewart. However, in expectation of strong demand, an Ao spokeswoman said the etailer has increased the number of delivery vans available over the Black Friday period by 16%.
Despite the level of anticipation, some have suggested Black Friday may have reached its peak amid concern of its impact on trading patterns and margins. Asda chief executive Andy Clarke has said he expects other retailers to follow it by drawing back from the event. “It will be interesting to see how many continue Black Friday next year. I suggest probably less,” he said.
Consultancy Fitch has also suggested more retailers could abandon it next year.
Analyst Richard Hyman, of Richardtalksretail.com, said there is no doubt that if retailers could “wave a magic wand” and turn the clocks back they would. “The retail industry has imported a lot of fantastic things from the US but Black Friday is not one of them,” he said.
- As retail shifts online for Black Friday, Retail Week will do the same. Visit Retail-week.com every day next week for up-to-the-minute coverage of the promotion including daily videos, data and news. There will be no print edition on November 27.