Each year Black Friday officially opens the Christmas shopping season, and it usually presents a great opportunity for retailers to drive sales and acquire new customers as shoppers head to the high street and online stores hunting for the best deals.

The numbers back this up too! According to a report from IMRG, total online sales on Black Friday in 2018 reached £1.49bn; increasing by 7.3% year on year. So, despite some UK retailers’ (IKEA, M&S, and Next) decision to stay away from the November shopping craze, for many, Black Friday remains the most profitable day of the year.

However, the increase in competition and consumer demand during this period has made it difficult for many brands to strike the right balance with promotional strategies and achieve sales-based success. That said, it is crucial that retailers are aware of the latest Black Friday marketing trends and profit-generating tactics they’ll want to employ for a better chance at scooping up as much revenue as possible during the festive season.

So, here is our list of the top seven Black Friday facts retailers should know before engaging in any promotional activity:

1. A Week-Long Shopping Extravaganza

As we implied in the intro, although Black Friday offers your company an opportunity to cash in on sales, the opportunity window is rather small, so you need to be very time-wise if you want to remain competitive. According to research by Mintel, 67% of all discounts offered in 2018 were introduced between Monday and Thursday leading up to Black Friday. This goes on to prove that retailers are under pressure to increase sales throughout the whole shopping period in November, rather than relying just on Black Friday alone.

We can see that this trend continues on this year as well; with several retailers including Amazon, Currys PC World, John Lewis and Argos, who have already launched a range of early offers ahead of Black Friday 2019. Having this in mind, it is essential that you start building anticipation for your Black Friday sales much earlier on and, as the big day approaches, you’ll want to use urgency or exclusivity to drive the customers into taking immediate action.

2. A Shift In Shopping Habits

Since the mass-adoption of Black Friday sales in the UK, November has witnessed significant growth in its share of all online retail sales month on month, as well as compared to the rest of the year. With 33% of consumers purchasing items during the event online in 2018, compared to only 11% who purchased in-store (Mintel), it is clear that Black Friday 2019 is set to become an online-first event within the UK.

Customer shopping online through their laptop

This means that consumers no longer need to wait for high street stores to open their doors on the morning of Black Friday, instead, they can purchase their desired products online at midnight on Black Friday, giving e-commerce retailers a massive head start over brick and mortar only stores.

Having this in mind, it is vital that brands who run deals on their website can accommodate greater traffic flows during the Black Friday week as well as offer a high-quality site speed to ensure a great user experience.

3. Who are the typical Black Friday shoppers?

Even though Black Friday attracts a wide range of buyers across all demographics, there are some groups that represent a larger majority. In general, Black Friday purchasing skews to a younger audience, with over half (56%) of those aged 16-34 making a purchase during Black Friday in 2018. This group was more active both at the store level, with 17% making a purchase, and online, where 48% completed a purchase, as reported by Mintel.

What’s important to mention here is that smartphone purchasing (26%) for this age group was almost equal to desktop purchasing (27%), indicating that a having a mobile-friendly website is essential to Black Friday’s core audience.

4. Shopping with Purpose

Awareness - Consideration - Intent - Purchase

With retailers announcing their promotions earlier every year, consumers now have plenty of time to go through the sales funnel. From researching through the available deal options in early November, to narrowing down their preferred choices and engaging with specific products closer to Black Friday. Holiday shoppers prefer to use their phones to hunt for the best deal; according to Google, mobile searches containing “Black Friday” increased by a remarkable 80% over the past two years.

In early November, consumers are more likely to search for generic terms and then, about two and a half weeks before Black Friday, there is a switch to searches for Black Friday becoming mostly branded.

This means that today’s informed and empowered consumers are no longer anchored to a single day of shopping. Instead of spending their time queuing, shoppers are researching everything from the best high street deals to discounts on specific products. In step with this, we see that in-stores sales have dropped dramatically over the past few years in favour of online sales. This can also explain why Black Friday is becoming a week and sometimes month-long event for many high street stores in an attempt to boost footfall.

5. Christmas Shopping Key During Black Friday

So, once shoppers have finished with their research, they’re often using Black Friday as an opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts — whether that’s in-store or online. According to Google, mobile searches for “where to buy” (e.g. “where to buy Christmas socks”) has risen by over 85% since 2017. This goes in line with a report by Mintel stating that 67% of shoppers reported purchasing Christmas gifts during the 2018 event. On the basis of that, retailer marketers should be very tactical in order to meet consumers in these important touchpoints during online search and in-store purchasing on Black Friday.

Black Friday Consumer Online Shopping Behaviour Statistics for 2018

Behaviours of Black Friday shoppers, December 2018

6. Electricals = Most Popular Category

Perhaps it is unsurprising to say that electrical goods are a key category during Black Friday, with just under half (49%) of Black Friday buyers who purchased some form of electricals during the 2018 event. Laptops, tablets and computers were found to be the most popular purchase, while mobile phones were the least popular from all electricals in 2018.

Given the focus on electricals during Black Friday, you would expect to see companies like Curry PC World or Carphone Warehouse at the top, but they, in fact, came in second and tenth respectively while Amazon dominated the first position.

internet users aged 16+ who purchased electricals during the Black Friday 2018 promotions online bar graph

Retailers shopped with online during Black Friday 2018

Amazon was the leading company in terms of Black Friday sales last year, reporting that almost half of the sales (48%) were made by electrical buyers. This indeed highlights that Amazon’s Black Friday approach, which is very much ingrained in the company’s retail policy, is particularly successful in terms of digital sales by offering discounts earlier and in a more easily accessible way.

7. Black Friday 2019 Prospects

Since Black Friday has become more established in the UK calendar, increasingly savvy consumers have been putting off purchases ahead of the event. This trend applies to electrical buyers in particular, with 58% saying they delayed a purchase until Black Friday last year (Mintel).

In addition, this year Black Friday falls on the 29th of November, which is payday for most consumers and it also falls just under four weeks from Christmas day itself. Due to the timing of the event this year, combined with a potentially larger amount of purchase-delaying shoppers, we are anticipating the biggest Black Friday to date!

So ultimately, this brings us to the conclusion that if this Black Friday lives up to our expectations, retailers must employ a two-fold strategy in order to stay afloat against e-commerce competitors. Firstly, they need to ensure that their in-store staff are well-trained and capable of delivering a stellar customer services during the big event and also make use of creative store-based events amplified through social media.

On the other hand, retailers also need to prepare their website for a series of significant traffic surges during the festive season as well as to establish an easily accessible mobile site for millennials.

By combining both of these elements, high street retailers can be certain to make the most out of the Black Friday phenomenon, providing customers with an unforgettable shopping experience both online and in-store. If you need any help with your holiday marketing campaign, do not hesitate to contact our team by using the form below.

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