Clothing and footwear businesses are expected to opt for strategic, targeted discounts on Black Friday this year, with many intending to use the planned promotions to shift excess autumn stock.
With a little over a month to go before Black Friday on November 27, business services group Experian and etail association IMRG have predicted that shoppers will spend £1.07bn on the day, up 32% on the £810m spent last year.
Retailers told Drapers they will counterbalance the warm start to the season by offering targeted discounts on heavy items, such as knitwear, outerwear and boots.
The head of buying at one footwear multiple said: “We are going to be very selective and do what needs to be done for us. There won’t be a panic sale. My gut feeling is that retailers will be more strategic this year.”
The chief executive of a young fashion chain agreed: “Our customers want to shop that day and we want to make money, but you have to be smart and not give it away for free. We will be running targeted planned promotions on certain categories; we will not be blanket discounting.”
He added: “We are beefing up our online teams and infrastructure to handle customer services and to make sure our deliveries go out on time.”
Steven Cohen, chief executive of men’s young fashion chain Blue Inc, said the menswear retailer would run targeted promotions, as it did last year: “That worked really well for us last year. You can’t avoid Black Friday as an industry-wide event, but you can be a bit thoughtful about how you do it.”
One brand suggested retailers are building up unsold stock to sell on Black Friday.
Some businesses, including Asos.com, plan to run a blanket sale this year. In 2014 Asos offered shoppers 30% off all full-price stock.
Other retailers are refusing to discount on Black Friday but expect a spike in sales regardless.
Reiss finance director Steven Downes said: “We stay away from Black Friday altogether; we would rather people buy our clothes because they want them, not because of the price. It’s got to the point where people say ‘Guess how much this was’ rather than ‘Isn’t this nice?’
“We still see the benefit because people are out shopping anyway.”
Jacky Broomhead, market development manager for apparel at supply chain consultancy GS1 UK, which is working with New Look, Arcadia, John Lewis, Debenhams and Jane Norman, said: “Retailers have recognised it’s a great opportunity to get new customers, but it’s also important not to upset existing ones.
“We suggest personalised digital coupons, offering different levels of discounts to new and old customers to reward loyalty.”
She added that it is important to know what stock is available and where: “Discounting eats into margins, so fulfilling an order from a nearby store could be a more cost-effective option.”
Experian urged retailers to “think carefully” about their marketing campaigns during peak trading, after it recorded an 82% upsurge in the volume of emails sent on Black Friday last year.
Experian and IMRG predict sales will reach £943m on Cyber Monday (November 30), up 31% on last year’s £720m.