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Black Friday 2018 - Statistics and strategies for retailers

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Factfile:

  • 88% of shoppers will visit a physical store over the Black Friday weekend, up 6% from 2017, but 68% plan to do most of their shopping online.  (Natural Insight)
  • On average, shoppers expect to spend $57 more on Black Friday itself than Cyber Monday (survey on blackfriday.com)
  • 2017 saw a 17% increase in online sales, with 40% of those coming through mobile devices, an increase of 11% on 2016. (Adobe)
  • Black Friday purchases are 50% more likely to be returned than purchases made outside of the 4-day weekend window. (LCP)
  • Overall holiday spend is forecast to increase 4.1%, with major players Amazon, Walmart & Target expected to dominate in the US. (National Retail Federation)
  • More than half of shoppers surveyed are beginning their Christmas shopping now that Halloween has ended. (GlobalData Retail)

Black Friday is growing across the week

Friday 23rd November 2018 will see the centrepiece of the Black Friday shopping weekend, though promotions, sales events and marketing will lead to a shopping peak beginning days earlier. This continues the trend of the past 4 years as retailers move to stake out days as their own prime promotional territory. Overall the shopping peak has been growing steadily in the UK, though Volo data last year showed a fall on the day itself year-on-year. This was more than offset by increased purchases before and afterwards. 

Notably, consumers still name Black Friday itself as the day they expect to spend the most on, beating Cyber Monday by an average of $57 for US shoppers. That may speak to a preference for the limited-time deals and sense of exclusivity many retailers employ in their marketing strategies for Black Friday itself.

Amazon pushed the field wider with its week of deals in 2017, and we expect this to happen again in 2018 – however this time Amazon will be in competition directly with Walmart and others for the whole week. The Seattle-based company may suffer from its lack of physical presence, as 88% of shoppers plan to at least visit a physical store over the weekend.

That’s not to say they will ultimately lose out on purchases – browsing in-store and shopping online remains a popular purchasing tactic for price-conscious consumers. Many plan to use price comparison sites this holiday season, making the price war more intensive than ever.

Strategies to capture Black Friday traffic

Brands and retailers without the deep pockets of Amazon may want to differentiate their approach to avoid being dragged into a battle over price that they’re unlikely to win and which could ultimately damage the brand in exchange for short-term sales.

One option is to commit to full price sales but ramp up marketing spend to try to prevent the competition grabbing customers with deals. As everywhere in retail, businesses who know their customers best will have a massive advantage in this scenario as they can tailor their ad spend and campaigns to the right mix of channels at the right time, to get the maximum impact.

Alternatively, for those brands looking to benefit from the traffic and excitement that promotions generate, limited-time deals can be a great way to generate anticipation and buzz without the costs of offering deep discounts across a week-long period. This plays into the classic fear of missing out (FOMO) that characterises Black Friday in pop culture and can help drive additional sales and traffic without excessive price-cutting.

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