With retailers offering up to 50% off between Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30) to kickstart the festive spending spree, Drapers looks at this year’s winners and losers.
Following last year’s scenes of chaos in stores, this year’s Black Friday morphed into an online Sales extravaganza.
Software firm PCA Predict identified a 16% year-on-year rise in consumers shopping online on Black Friday. As Cyber Monday hit online activity increased by 12%.
And fashion shared in this boost. IBM’s retail data division Watson Trend Hub reported that on Black Friday UK online apparel sales surged 24.2% year on year with average order values of £90.78 compared to £81.75 across all retail. Smartphone-based transactions comprised 16.7% of UK apparel sales, and 34.2% of traffic, while 25.1% of sales and 22.1% of traffic came from tablets.
With bricks-and-mortar stores more subdued than expected, particularly on Black Friday itself, etailers and the strongest multichannel operators dominated. Shop Direct revealed its clothing sales were up 73.8% year-on-year, outperfoming the business as a whole.
CEO Alex Baldock said: “Online was the big winner this year. After last year’s hectic time on the high street, people went for the choice, ease and affordability of online instead.”
John Lewis had its biggest single day’s trade up 11.9% on last year with sales “mainly driven by johnlewis.com”. Sales peaked between 9am and 10am, when 4.9 orders per second were placed. Fashion winners online were Barbour, up 61%, and Ted Baker, up 66%.
Click-and-collect and tech
Click-and-collect has been steadily growing this year, but as retailers sought to avoid the delivery nightmare of 2014, many like House of Fraser and John Lewis pushed their click-and-collect offer to simplify and speed up fulfilment. However, not all could keep up with demand, with Tesco warning click-and-collect could still take 5-7 days.
House of Fraser also experimented with augmented reality to create shoppable store fronts to promote discounts, enabling consumers to scan window vinyls with their phones, browse promotions and make purchases, avoiding in-store queues.
Black Friday deniers
Around 17% of fashion high street retailers, 30% of footwear retailers and 40% of lingerie retailers eschewed discounting altogether to protect brand image and margins, retail analyst Richard Hyman told Drapers.
Fat Face donated 10% of sales made in store on Black Friday to local charities, raising more than £200,000.
Reporting “positive like-for-likes in stores and healthy double-digit growth online”, CEO Anthony Thompson said: “I don’t believe Black Friday discounting would have helped our brand or our performance.”
Many retailers that did take part, however, avoided the blanket offers made last year, instead opting for targeted discounts on selected categories to protect margin as much as possible.
Physical stores appear to have lost out on the online sales bonanza.
Retail analyst Springboard reported that all retail locations saw a decline in footfall of 2.6% for the week ending Saturday November 28, against last year.
Footfall on high streets fell 5% and shopping centre’s dropped 2.7%. The only retail destinations to buck the trend were retail parks, reporting a 3.3% year-on-year increase for the week.
Much of this missed footfall could be due to many shoppers being stuck in their offices for most of Black Friday and the poor weather could have deterred others, pushing them online. Drapers’ visit to London’s Oxford Street during the afternoon found the often crowded street quieter than expected but gradually picking up, and while John Lewis’s sales were driven by its website, it said its stores were “busy at the weekend” with sales on Saturday up 9.3% on the year.
Indies in particular are expected to have been hit: many were dragged into Sale by multiples discounting the brands they stock, but facing reduced footfalls and not having the strong online presence to recapture spend there.
But physical stores could yet experience a delayed boost from the Sales weekend, as the rise of click-and-collect may lead to many visiting stores later this week or this weekend to collect online-bought items and being tempted into further purchases. Returns of online Black Friday purchases could also tempt shoppers back into stores.
Despite retailers having spent months preparing for increased online traffic with regular load testing, a few still came a cropper. John Lewis’s website crashed between 3pm and 4pm on Black Friday itself, which IT firm Capacitas estimated could have cost up to £2.8m in lost revenue. However, the retailer still reported a record-breaking day of sales.
Others who experienced problems – spanning shoppers not being able to fully search a site, add items to baskets or complete checkouts – included Boohoo, which said it “experienced a temporary disruption to service at the launch of our popular Black Friday offers”, however, these issues were “swiftly rectified”. Most escaped unscathed on Cyber Monday.
In general, though, most retailers were able to keep their page load times below two seconds, the generally accepted cut-off point at which consumers become impatient and consider leaving a site to shop elsewhere.