The sceptics remain in the ascendancy when it comes to whether the UK can replicate the consumer feeding frenzy witnessed around Black Friday in the US.
The sceptics remain in the ascendancy when it comes to whether the UK can replicate the consumer feeding frenzy witnessed around Black Friday in the US. Without the natural trigger of Thanksgiving, the weekend here really only serves as a starting gun for the Christmas countdown.
And nothing we have seen thus far makes forecasting the festive period any easier. Sentiment among retail chiefs Retail Week has spoken to hints at cautious optimism of growth – just. But consumer patterns are proving ever harder to predict with suggestions, particularly in fashion, that key festive purchases will be put off till the last minute as shoppers seek out the best deals.
But while insight into sales numbers remains elusive, there were striking takeaways from Black Friday, not least the dominance of online in the sales mix.
This will be amplified on Monday – or Cyber Monday as it has been coined. Estimates by John Lewis and Visa suggest it will be the busiest online shopping day in history in the UK, when £320m is expected to be spent on Visa cards alone as transactions hit 6.8 million. Perhaps even more staggering, given the relative infancy of the technology, is the continued migration to smartphones.
Deloitte believes Christmas sales influenced by or purchased via smartphones will hit £3.5bn this year, although only £330m of sales will be made directly through devices as shoppers use their phones to interact with retailers on a number of levels.
The figures show the pace at which shopping habits are evolving and in turn stretching retailers’ ability to keep up. From supply chain to technology, this Christmas will test multichannel strategies like no period before.