Is Black Friday Sustainable?

Is Black Friday Sustainable?

I recently attended Table Crowd event and had the pleasure of hearing some interesting insights on Black Friday from Aryan Anbari, Business Development Manager, from EDITED, alongside my compatriots around the table. EDITED is the world’s biggest source of real-time data for brands and retailers.

Black Friday, a fairly new shopping date in the UK, is fast approaching on the 25th November. With a reported £3.3billion spent over Black Friday weekend in 2015, this year is expected to be even bigger. But is bigger necessarily better? Aryan’s insights into what EDITED are seeing across UK brands suggested that this key date may not be as good for brands as it sounds.

Here is a summary of my key take-aways from EDITED’s insights:

·      Christmas creep:

According to EDITED’s data, 45% of products in the apparel market were discounted in 2015 during Black Friday. With the date so close to the end of November it gives a very short runway to Christmas for retailers. Alongside this, Christmas sales are moving closer to November (Christmas Creep), so the net effect is that the time between pre-Christmas promotions and sales are becoming shorter.

·      Luxury vs High-street:

Traditionally, in the US market, all brand types are involved in Black Friday. However, in the UK, brand involvement trends towards the lower end of the mass market. Luxury brands do not tend to participate, seeing the heavy discounting as devaluing of their product.  So don’t expect to see Net-a-porter or Matches or Browns pushing out deals. Premium is more fragmented in terms of uptake and nearly every brand on the high-street participates in some capacity. The biggest UK players with the highest number of items reduced were: House of Fraser, Yoox, John Lewis, JD Williams and The Corner.

·      How brands can win:

Aryan highlighted that the ability for brands to cut through during Black Friday is very much down to the size of your marketing budget making it harder for smaller brands to compete.

However, there are benefits for all retailers trading over this weekend as a result of the increase in traffic and customer demand.

During Amazon Prime day, non-participating brands saw an increase of 20% in sales as a result of the traffic spike and without the need to discount their stock.

By not participating in Black Friday brands have an opportunity to stand out and show confidence in their product, which can also positively resonate with customers.

Other high-street brands have adopted interesting approaches to avoid Black Friday, such as Fat Face, who instead of discounting gave 10% to charity on all purchases joining the growing swell of brands who have adopted #givebackfriday.

·      Future direction…retailers moving away

Aryan predicts that the current Black Friday trend is not sustainable for retailers and that there will need to be a change. I would echo this, with the only real winners being e-com giants like Amazon.

Predictions that this year’s sales may reach £5billion, with over 50% purchased on mobile, already indicates a shift of the focus of the event from bricks and mortar to digital.

He pointed out that one of the first major retailer to bring Black Friday to the UK was Asda, as part of the Walmart family. And, interestingly, Asda was also one of the first major retailers to walk away from it.

So he anticipates more will follow but that the main issue for retailers is accessing accurate data on the net benefits of Black Friday as there are so many potential influences behind the real key drivers of sales.

Thanks to Tablecrowd and Edited for some great Insights. Now, what do you think about Black Friday?