Commenting ahead of this year’s Black Friday, Andrew Westbrook, RSM’s head of retail said:
‘It’s hard to believe that Black Friday only arrived in the UK five years ago but it has now become a permanent – and vitally important – fixture in the retail calendar.
‘These types of one-off promotion days have grown in popularity and importance in recent years. UK retailers will be hoping to emulate the success of Singles Day in Asia – the biggest shopping day on the planet – which saw Alibaba alone take a record breaking $38.4 billion in just 24 hours.
‘Last year, Black Friday sales were a little disappointing, not least because the day fell before pay day. This year, it lands after pay day and with many stores having stocked up in anticipation of Brexit, the pressure will be on to convert this stock into cash – ideally without sacrificing too much profit margin.
‘As a result, this year’s Black Friday discounting season could start earlier and last longer than ever. With competition likely to be intense, bargain hunters will be in their element.
‘High street operators with the most desirable locations will be hoping to do well, but the real battle for market share is likely to be online. The competition here will be fierce. While luxury brands will try to maintain full prices, we expect to see fast fashion fighting heavily on price and discounting. The somewhat desperate middle market will be the place to shop this year. Pieces selling between £20-£50 – perhaps the cost of a new Christmas party outfit – is where we would expect to see the best value for consumers.
‘This year, we are also likely to see an increase in creative discounting, whereby online retailers offer member-only discounts or special promotions for loyal customers. The retailers’ assault on customer inboxes has already begun, and traffic is likely to reach fever pitch as we approach the big day.
‘While some retailers resent Black Friday, for others it will be crucial for their survival. The past year has seen many struggling retailers being forced to throw in the towel. Stores that don’t put up a good fight this Black Friday could suffer a knock-out blow.’