Analysis: Black Friday UK shopping trends

This year’s Black Friday UK spend was the biggest ever, with almost half of consumers stocking up on bargains ahead of Christmas.

While retailers’ adoption of Black Friday is often derided as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’, as it involves cutting prices during a period when stores should be able to shift stock at full price, the latest research from Verdict Retail indicates that shoppers increasingly see the event as an opportunity to buy things for themselves that they would have otherwise bought in the post-Christmas sales.

As such, it means that Black Friday is likely to remain as a significant event in the UK retail calendar, and will continue to diminish the impact of Boxing Day and January sales. We believe that the coming post-Christmas sales will still be successful though, as many will see it as a last opportunity to purchase before the price rises that retailers and suppliers are signalling due to depreciation of the pound, but this will impact retail in the following quarters of 2017.

This year, 43 per cent of Black Friday shoppers said they bought sooner than they otherwise would in order to get a discount during the promotional period, an increase of over five percentage points on 2015. At the same time, 64 per cent of shoppers bought for themselves, as opposed to 29 per cent who bought for a partner and 27 per cent who bought for children.  

This year’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday event was bigger than ever, with participation in promotions across the period increasing to 47 per cent of shoppers, and average spend increasing across all categories. While price was once again the most important driver, there was an increased focus on quality, as people made more important purchases, such as large screen TVs, which also resulted in more shoppers financing purchases from savings – 12 per cent compared to 8 per cent last year.

Despite the lengthening of the event, shoppers focussed less of their spend than last year on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the run up to Black Friday, but spent a higher proportion on the Thursday, Black Friday itself and the following Saturday, before falling again on the Sunday and Cyber Monday.

Retailers should plan ahead for Black Friday 2017, but focus promotions on a shorter period for maximum impact.


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