Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions caused a spike in sales for many fashion retailers, but may have simply pulled sales forward rather than creating additional revenue.
The US-imported retail discount days are typically associated with big ticket items, such as technology, but this year the majority of fashion multiples and a number of independents jumped on the bandwagon to entice shoppers to start their Christmas spending.
“It would appear that it has worked for them, but it depends if it was incremental spend,” said Glen Tooke, senior fashion analyst at Kantar Worldpanel. “These shoppers may not return to the market. We have found that people’s spend every year is more or less the same, so this could have just worked to move the sales forward.”
Overall online traffic beat all predictions on Black Friday itself, up 60% year on year to 180 million visits. Estimated sales increased by 86% to reach £810m in the UK, according to data from Experian and IMRG.
Cyber Monday also registered a 40% rise in visits on 2013 but showed a slight slowdown in pace against the highs of Black Friday. An estimated £710m was spent, up 50% against last year.
John Lewis reported its biggest ever weekly sales in its 150-year trading history, with overall sales up 22% on last year to £179m and online sales recording a 42% growth year on year. Electricals led the sales but fashion closed the week to Tuesday December 2, up 17% on the previous year.
Shop Direct said its Black Friday results beat Cyber Monday with 30,000 orders placed per hour during the first three hours of trading – three times more than the same day in 2013. Online action from the business’s Very.co.uk brand peaked at 8am with 254,000 page impressions per minute.
Jon Owen, retail brands and trading director at Shop Direct, said: “We reached levels of traffic on our site today [Black Friday] that we’ve never experienced before, and 65% of that came from mobile devices, which only highlights the importance retailers need to place on mobile-enabled shopping in the future.”
Little-mistress.com, which sells womenswear brands Girls on Film, Paper Dolls and Little Mistress, noted a jump of 465% in web traffic on the Friday year on year by 11am, dipping only slightly to 421% by 3.30pm.
Other retailers buckled under the pressure of increased traffic to their websites such as the Arcadia Group, whose sites, which include Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge, were down all day.
Although much of the focus was online, footfall to stores increased by 9.8% overall on Friday, according to data from Springboard. It found footfall to retail parks increased 14.4% year on year, while shopping centres increased 11.3% and the high street increased 7.2%.
However, high street footfall on Saturday November 29 fell by 8.8% and shopping centres posted a 0.7% decline.
“While footfall was boosted by the promotions available on Black Friday, the figures suggest many shoppers went on Friday rather than Saturday, so it was really more of a displacement,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.
Some retailers were noticeably absent from the discounting frenzy including Next, Reiss and Irish lifestyle brand Dubarry, which said it had a “bumper” weekend despite not having any discounts on product. A spokeswoman said: “It was phenomenal and we didn’t run any Black Friday promotions. I think the fact it was the payday before Christmas had a lot to do with it.”