The combination of Black Friday discounts and coronavirus restrictions will make November a record month for online spending in the UK, according to a new report that showed a 60% increase in first web sales.
With non-essential stores closed in England and closed in parts of Scotland at the end of this week, well-known names such as Currys PC World and Debenhams have started cutting prices to encourage shoppers to shop early and avoid a street collapse in December.
Online sales rose 61% in the first week of November compared to the same period last year, according to internet industry body IMRG, which said the impressive growth indicated that November was “well on its way to being a record month for online sales”.
Andy Mulcahy, director of strategy and insight at IMRG, said Black Friday week – starting November 23 – was still big in terms of sales, but the pandemic was set against the backdrop that retailers had to encourage customers to shop earlier in order to avoid. major arrears and delays close to Christmas ”.
Of the 320 IMRG monitor retailers, as of mid-last week, more than one in 10 had launched their Black Friday campaigns up from around 4% in 2019, with AO.com, The Entertainer and Amazon among the names already offering discounts.
According to a Center for Retail Research report for Vouchercodes.co.uk, the focus is on the last weekend of November, when shoppers are expected to spend £ 7.5bn. This would be about 12% less than in 2019 and the first time that CRR experts have predicted a drop in total sales since the arrival of the American-inspired event in 2013. The drop in spending is entirely attributable to closures of closed stores.
The divergent fortunes of real and virtual stores are largely reflected in CRR’s forecast, which projects online sales to rise by nearly £ 2bn to £ 5.8bn, while stores will run out of money. £ 3 billion, to take just £ 1.7 billion.
Patrick O’Brien, an analyst at consulting firm GlobalData, said he expected a strong Black Friday sales spell with multi-channel retailers “desperate to make up for lost in-store sales” through their websites. “They are looking at the barrel of a catastrophic Christmas and are not sure they can open on December 2. There is a battle to get their share of the expenses. “
When Black Friday first arrived in the UK, the scramble for discounted TVs and devices ended in brawls at some stores, but now it’s mostly played out online, with consumers at home browsing websites for the best deals, especially on coveted home appliances like washing machines and vacuum cleaners, as well as personal gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and speakers.
Big names such as Marks & Spencer and Next are not participating this year while, unlike last year, John Lewis is not launching its own promotions but will match the prices of its competitors. Fewer promotions are also expected in supermarket aisles, with store managers reluctant to attract more people to already busy stores.
Delivery companies are already experiencing a peak in demand. Last week’s package volumes were 43% higher than in 2019, according to tech company Metapack, which works with big brands like John Lewis. Its software finds delivery slots for packages within a network of 400 carriers, making it possible to move one billion packages per year.
During the three months of spring lockdown, the number of packages Metapack handled was actually 25% higher than in last year’s holiday rush. Given the foreclosure restrictions, some retailers believe the Christmas peak could be up to 60% higher, according to Bruce Fair, a Metapack executive. The carriers keep their ultimate capacity ‘close to their chest’, he added, but the top four – Royal Mail, DPD, Hermes and Yodel – have stopped going into new business.
Toy chain Entertainer launched its Black Friday deals early to help spread sales and, like some other chains, is offering a refund of the difference if prices drop again.
Gary Grant, its founder and executive chairman, said he couldn’t “cram seven weeks of customers into his stores in three weeks” when the stores reopened. “We have to maximize every day of every week, until Christmas now, we don’t want a lull now and be overcapacity in three weeks.
In previous years, The Entertainer took 10 days to process Black Friday orders and if the lockdown results in a 50% or 100% increase, Grant warned that “we and the couriers couldn’t cope”.
“There is no point in the whole world thinking that on November 27 we can go online and buy whatever we want, and it will miraculously show up on our doorstep,” he added.