Black Friday is here to stay and retailers must get used to it, Marks & Spencer boss Marc Bolland believes.
Bolland said the promotional fixture - imported frm the US - reflected new shopping habits which must be taken account of, despite its contribution to a discounting frenzy ahead of Christmas when fashion retailers also cutt prices after the warm autumn.
Widespread discounting took a toll on M&S over the festive period. Although the retailer held margin by limiting discounting, it suffered a big sales hit.
General merchandise like-for-likes plunged by 5.8% in the third quarter to December 27.
Bolland said of Black Friday: “If consumers want to shop in that way more, as retailers we need to find answers.
“Is it going away? That’s not the world we live in – we live in the consumer’s world.
“The world is turning more digital. I think we should embrace that and not stand against it, but there are consequences.”
Black Friday contributed to a steep spike in online demand across retail.
M&S’s Castle Donington distribution centre sagged under the pressure and online sales fell 5.9% in the quarter.
However Bolland insisted that in the longer term all the expected benefits from Castle Donington would be evident.
If there was another shopping “cyber day” in the next few months, he maintained, Castle Donington would cope.
Retailers across the board are assessing the implications of the rise of the Black Friday, which shifted seasonal selling patterns and required careful balancing of sales and margins.
John Lewis managing director Andy Street said earlier this week: “My honest view is that overall it is not in the industry’s interest to focus so much trade onto one day.
“You want more steady trade and obviously you want more of it at full price.”
Marks & Spencer sales hit by warm autumn and online delivery woes
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M&S boss Bolland: no turning back from Black Friday