Whether you like it or not, Black Friday is here to stay and retailers must ready themselves for an even bigger event this year.
With six weeks to go, advertising and communication around Black Friday 2015 are already in full flow. And the media is latching on to forecasts this year’s event could be the UK’s first £1bn shopping day.
The industry remains divided on the phenomenon. However, a study out next week, conducted by Retail Week and Microsoft, about dealing with peak trading, shows 34% of consumers plan to buy something on November 27. That compares with the 19% who said they made a purchase on Black Friday in 2014.
“The arguments for and against are increasingly irrelevant the closer the day looms. It is now less about the why and all about the how”
And to underscore the concerns about the effects of the event, 55% now say Sales and discounting are the most important factors in choosing where they shop for Christmas.
Black Friday is here to stay, and is cementing the cycle of discounting that the industry is struggling to fight.
However, the arguments for and against are increasingly irrelevant the closer the day looms. It is now less about the why and all about the how.
Memories of Black Friday 2014 are still dominated by failing websites, stampeding shoppers and delivery failures. Behind the scenes, retail’s IT and logistic machines have been stress testing for the spike for months and there is a quiet confidence that lessons from last year have been learnt.
There will be a concerted push to manage consumer expectations. In-store, the ugly scenes of customers fighting over TVs must be consigned to the past, while well-articulated changes to delivery services are an important tool in reducing the frustrations and disappointments that made front page news last year. And social media can be utilised to deal with queries in real time.
When asked for predictions about Christmas, retailers enjoy the cliche, “all we can say with certainty is that it will happen on December 25”.
We can be certain Black Friday will happen on November 27, but it still remains 24 hours with a life of its own and retailers must be prepared to react to the unexpected as it unfolds.