Jan 17, 2020
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Strong Black Friday hurt rest of Christmas for struggling retailers says GlobalData

Jan 17, 2020

The full line-up of Christmas trading statements may not yet have been released, but plenty have already come out and it’s clear that Black Friday’s success could have dealt a crushing blow to Christmas trading overall.

Christmas shopping was a disappointment last year

On Friday, research and analysis firm GlobalData issued its Black Friday in the UK 2019 report and said that “although a number of retailers reported strong sales growth over the Black Friday period in a heavily promotional Q4, this was not enough to boost performance for struggling retailers over the crucial Christmas trading period.”

It looks like Black Friday itself could have been part of the reason for this with more consumers participating in last year’s shopping fest than ever, despite widespread talk of ‘Black Friday fatigue’ before the event. Some 55.8% of UK shoppers bought a discounted item during the period, up 3.1 ppts versus 2018, “making the most of a heavily promotional retail environment”.

The analysts also said that “economic uncertainty and a pre-Christmas election did not distract shoppers from searching for deals, as the occasion offered the chance to save money on buying presents in the lead-up to Christmas, especially important in 2019 for perhaps a greater number of shoppers due to constrained disposable income”.

It seems that shoppers delayed some purchases and brought others forward to take advantage of the deals but GlobalData’s Emily Salter said this meant that overall, “the event generated no incremental spend to boost retailers’ revenue in the Christmas trading period.”

It’s interesting to see just how Black Friday affected shopper behaviour too as it appears that 45.1% of consumers who shopped the event had delayed buying items (a 4.4 ppt rise versus 2018).

This led to impressive sales rise in some cases with Boohoo, John Lewis and Mountain Warehouse all recording strong increases for the event.

But it also meant the so-called Golden Quarter as a whole was weak and demand for discounted bargains post-Christmas was suppressed. 

Big names that saw slower sell-through of clearance sale stock after Christmas included Next and John Lewis “as the prolific promotions in 2019 may have led to discounting fatigue among shoppers”.

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