Nov 20, 2018
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Britons still Black Friday-focused, but December remains key, fashion to benefit

Nov 20, 2018

UK consumers remain hooked on Black Friday deals, even if most of them don’t believe that those deals are as good as they’re made out to be. But while younger consumers are the most Black Friday-focused, the shopping community as a whole will still have money to spare next month to continue their Christmas binge. And there are also hints that retailers could be looking to deprioritise Black Friday a little.

Mintel is predicting a "not bad" December for UK stores - Archiv

Who says so? Mintel. In a new forecast, it's predicting that December spending won’t be devastated by what happens in late November. And it thinks non-food retail sales will hit £23.5 billion next month and online sales will be £11 billion. That should divide down into omnichannel retailers generating £5.4 billion online and pureplay names beating them on £5.6 billion.

Mintel director of retail research Richard Perks said that should all make it “a reasonably good Christmas—not outstanding, but it won’t be bad either. While there are some reasons to be cautious, such as falling consumer confidence, there is no real sign of an underlying slowdown in retail sales growth.”

Despite some tough reports detailing falling visitor traffic, slowing sales generally and multiple retailer failures, he said “retail sales have held up well this year and we expect the recent momentum is likely to be maintained, with retail sales growing at about 4% both in the final quarter of 2018 and in December itself.”

That would, at least, put the growth rate higher than inflation - which is currently bubbling between 2% and 3%.

He said that “while there’s been much talk of how the High Street is being undermined by online retailing, it still only represents a relatively small part of overall retail sales, with most shopping still taking place in physical stores.”

And Black Friday? As mentioned, it remains an attractive event but an overhyped one, with some consumer scepticism that means 66% of 2017 Black Friday shoppers felt the discounts weren’t as good as they were made out to be.
But Black Friday is now “well and truly entrenched in the shopping calendar.” According to Mintel research, last year 57% of Britons browsed for goods during Black Friday promotions, while 41% made a purchase during the event. And it proved to be a huge hit for the country’s 25-34-year-olds, with 75% of them saying they browsed for goods and 62% making a purchase.

But, as mentioned in other reports, while it has led to scenes of overcrowded stores in some earlier years, by 2017, just 16% of consumers engaged with the event in-store, with the majority of shoppers going online (56%). Electrical goods were the most  popular purchase, bought by 51% of Black Friday consumers in 2017, followed by fashion, which was bought by 42% of them.

And why were they buying? Well, 51% of last year’s Black Friday shoppers said the majority of the purchases they made during the promotions were Christmas gifts. Given that their buys often weren’t for their own use, it’s no surprise that 61% of Black Friday shoppers said they waited for the Black Friday promotions before making a purchase. 
“While Black Friday has become a high profile retail fixture, retailers do run the risk of bringing forward festive spending, but at discounted prices,” Perks added. “There is always a fear of missing out, so the actual outcome is the big unknown for how the retail sector will perform this Christmas. Given some evidence of growing disillusionment among shoppers for Black Friday, Mintel predicts that retailers would like to pull back from promotions for this event. We think that this year’s event will be no bigger than last year’s, and that means good news for the amount of money left over to spend in December.”

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