Black Friday consumer shopping habits

Black Friday takes place on the day after Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The official date for Black Friday 2019 is the 29 November, but many retailers will begin their barrage of sales a week earlier on the 22 November.

Last year’s Black Friday event produced three key findings, highlighted in the ‘Black Friday in the UK 2018’ report by GlobalData retail analysts. The first finding revealed how Black Friday had a big impact on the timing of purchases in Q4, shifting sales patterns.

Surveying 2,000 UK shoppers before last year’s event, the report revealed that 39.9% said that they planned to purchase an item on promotion during the discounting period. And of those shoppers, 55.8% planned to postpone a purchase to benefit from anticipated reduced prices. This shows how anticipated Black Friday price cuts heavily influence shoppers in their habits prior to the event and how it has a significant effect on retailers, regardless of if they plan to participate in Black Friday sales or not.

The report also stated that spend during the Black Friday period is forecast to account for 10.5% of Q4 spend, with shopper penetration up five percentage points to 52.7%. However, the growth of Black Friday will continue to slow year-on-year, taking into consideration the prolific discounting throughout 2018 as retailers struggled to influence shoppers to spend.

The second key finding revealed that the majority of last year’s Black Friday spend occurred online, with Amazon being the top performer. This year the retailer is expected to duplicate its success by effectively communicating deals to customers during the Black Friday period.

The third key finding revealed that consumers spent more on themselves than others; last year, 65.7% of Black Friday purchases were made by consumers for themselves. This shows that consumers are more open to spending during Black Friday, especially on items that would otherwise be considered as a treat or luxury purchase.

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How will this year’s event look?

Black Friday 2019 sales will continue to slow down, with many consumers focusing on Boxing Day and January sale events. However, consumers will aim to start their shopping early; retailers can take advantage of this.

As Brexit uncertainty still looms, many retailers will seek to offer lower prices and bigger discounts for Black Friday 2019 and for Christmas in the hopes of reversing decreasing shop sales. And although electricals often produces a strong result during Black Friday, the sector may replicate its 2018 performance, which saw it outperformed by other sectors due to the rise of smaller ‘treat’ purchases.

GlobalData said it anticipates spirited discounting and special offers from mobile networks and retailers well before the traditional post-Thanksgiving rush.

GlobalData technology analyst Nicole Teasley said: “There will be aggressive offers from all brands, but we believe most will be announced especially early this year.”

Omnichannel retail experiences are key for a successful Black Friday 2019

A report by marketing and sales analytics solutions company Periscope by McKinsey reported on the importance of retailers thinking beyond Black Friday, getting both the timing and targeting of deals and promotions right to catch consumers who plan their gift shopping early.

Conducted across the US, UK, Canada and Germany, the report found that while 47% of shoppers did not know what gift they wanted to purchase, 62% planned to shop online and in-store, with many wanting digitally-enhanced offline shopping experiences. These include digital panel product browsing, self-checkout and offers sent direct to their phones.

These findings suggest that creating personalised omnichannel shopping experiences can be crucial for a successful Black Friday sales event. Brick-and-mortar stores should continue to streamline personalised digital experiences to tailor purchases to indecisive customers. Even tailoring digital experiences exclusively to in-store may even increase the already declining footfall in retail.

Periscope by McKinsey founder, senior advisor and head of innovation Brian Elliott said: “Given these trends, it’s becoming clear that the winners of this holiday season will be those retailers who get personalisation right, create omnichannel experiences and win the battle of consideration by launching promotional campaigns earlier.

“The ability to target relevant and personalised offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer’s success. Added to that, shoppers have come to expect and actively engage in omnichannel experiences. Retailers have long recognised the reality that their customers shop in omnichannel ways but have been slower to implement truly omnichannel programs that can follow customers across the entire consumer decision journey.

“Finally, timing is everything. Providing options early in a shopper’s planning cycle and/or providing curated and easy-to-navigate options for gifting, will win the consideration battle.”