Black Friday Week Shifts Online As High Street Struggles

It's one of the more obvious observations for any digital marketer with a brain and an internet connection, but this year's Black Friday turned into a week of discounting that spread into Cyber Monday. Not so much a Black Friday day, or a Black Friday week, but more a discount ten days.

The end result is that Black Friday disappointed online and it was a complete flop on the high street. 

According to IMRG, which monitors online retail, Black Friday online spend was most definitely up on the day itself. However, the 7% lift was around half the 13% forecast.

The reason is clear. It measured at the start of Black Friday week that around 40% of websites had already started their Black Friday sales, significantly up on the year before. Interestingly, the researchers say, there were many huge retailers that took the plunge early compared to last year.

Its research has also pointed out that big-ticket items -- in particular electronics for the home -- were snapped up early. Home electronics sales were up year-on-year by 24%, 17% and 16% in the three days before Black Friday, and so only were only up 0.6% on Black Friday itself. The big day was a damp squib for the big-money items. 

Speaking of which, as everybody can probably testify, Black Friday was most definitely an online phenomenon. The crowds of the past were nowhere to be seen as consumers browsed offers all week long. 

Retail Gazette is quoting figures from BDO which suggest growth in sales at physical stores was up just 0.5% on last year's event. It also calculates that footfall was down 6.5% compared to Black Friday 2017, the biggest drop in Black Friday footfall in three years. 

In stark contrast, the researchers estimate that across the week like-for-like sales were up 30% for online retailers.

It confirms what we know. Discounting happened all week, and people made their purchases online rather than catch the bus into town or circle the car park to find a space to do a spot of shopping.

When deals are being emailed to you in advance and flagged up in your social feeds, why would you not take them up rather than wait for Friday? By that time the deal might over or stock might have run out and so many retailers were throwing in delivery with goods, it just made far less sense to avoid websites and plump for physical stores this year. 

So it has been a flat Black Friday on the high street and online sales on the day failed to live up to expectation, although ecommerce growth across the week would appear to be encouraging. 

One point Netimperative makes is that Cyber Monday and the week we are currently ending may have seen a lift that will be reported soon because Black Thursday was early this year and before most people got paid. Hence, there is another prediction that Cyber Monday week may see sales rise. 

Is it me, or does spell a Black Friday fortnight?

Discounting before Christmas is the new norm, as will be confessions in the New Year that incremental sales didn't happen and all people did was shop early for less. Great for the courier companies -- not so great for retailers. 

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