It’s November so it must be time to worry about Black Friday, and let’s face it: if you are not ready now, then you have got a big a problem.
Friday, 25th November is the allotted day, and the prediction is that this year it will be bigger than ever, lasting for five days from Thursday, 24th November to Monday, 28th November.
Already, the newspapers are speculating on the deals that will be available. “The Sun” last month reported that very.co.uk had accidentally revealed its Black Friday deals a month early.
For retailers the prospects for the Christmas season are respectable, if not spectacular.
The IMRG Capgemini index for online sales showed growth of 17 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter; the highest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2014. It pointed out that this might, in part, have been driven by international shoppers buying from UK sites because of the falling value of sterling since the Brexit vote.
And, although high street footfall in September was down by 0.9 per cent on last year, spending was up 1.3 per cent, according to the British Retail Consortium.
According to e-commerce consultancy Salmon, UK consumers are expected to spend about £5 billion over the five-day period – and more than half of that, £2.55bn, will be using mobile devices…
Last year, the challenges posed by Black Friday were tamed – to some extent at least. For example, Yodel handled more than 22 million parcels in the five weeks running up to Christmas (Sunday 22nd November to Thursday 24th December), which includes the cyber weekend period.
And, it said, consumer feedback from eDigitalResearch showed customer satisfaction levels at a high with 83 per cent reporting a positive delivery experience.
One of the problems that arose in 2014 was the effort to maintain next day deliveries in the face of the massive spike in demand. Last year, most retailers and carriers sensibly abandoned that – and it paid dividends.
Given last year’s success, it might seem that there is nothing left the achieve this year – simply roll out last year’s solution again and everything will be hunky dory.
But that would be to miss an opportunity. After all, £5 billion of consumer spending in five days should not simply be seen as a survival challenge, but a massive opportunity to build market share and improve margins on previous years. And having learned some hard lessons in the past couple of years, perhaps now is the time to put that knowledge into practice.