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Editor's Comment: A Black Friday backdrop to a different kind of sale

It’s here, it’s happened and now we await the results. Black Friday has passed for another year.

So far, there are conflicting reports on the US-imported discounting day’s success this year. While many UK retailers observed growth, it seems to be slowing. However, there appears to have been a surprise uplift in the number of people choosing to shop in stores on Black Friday, suggesting last year they were simply put off by the scenes of mayhem in 2014.

Having said that, there were clear indications that Black Friday is a multichannel event for those who take part. Five orders were placed every second online at John Lewis between 8am and 8:30am. The store at Westfield Stratford City – which I went to with my consumer hat on – was certainly extremely busy on Friday, in particular in the electricals department. Big-ticket items such as TVs and premium products in other categories are where the discounts made a huge difference. The anecdotal evidence of a slowdown in online growth and a shift back towards bricks-and-mortar stores show Black Friday is still evolving.

 

Even while retailers report bumper sales, many remain notably silent on the subject of profit and margins.

 

Many retailers stretched out their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for at least a week this year, so it will be a while before we know its full impact. And even while retailers report bumper sales, many remain notably silent on the subject of profit and margins.

In other news, womenswear retailers Oasis, Coast and Warehouse could be up for sale, and all three brands have posted good results this week. Oasis increased its profits year on year, Coast returned to profit, and Warehouse reduced its losses by almost £2m compared with the year before.

Liz Evans took control of both Oasis and Warehouse in March 2013, having previously served as managing director at Oasis since October 2010. She set out a three-year plan for improving Oasis, which was followed this year by a corresponding strategy for Warehouse.

And the plans seem to be working. The Oasis store at Tottenham Court Road picked up the gong for Best Store Design at last month’s Drapers Awards, and the retailer has been widely praised for its design, clear brand identity and in-store experience.

At Warehouse, which has struggled somewhat over recent years, Evans brought in new design director Emma Cook and oversaw a revamp of its flagship London store. This fresh approach has got people talking about Warehouse again, in the right way.

She has also re-platformed both the Oasis and Warehouse websites, ensuring both store and online are given equal importance. As a result, both retailers are in a much better position to attract a potential buyer than before Evans took the helm.

 

 

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