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Many small stores decided to boycott the day or offer alternatives such as “colour Friday” highlighting creative ideas at local independent shops. Retailers M&S and Next have announced that they’re no longer taking part, so is Black Friday worth the trouble?

The simple answer is a resounding yes.

John Lewis, Backmarket and Argos have been promoting theirs for months already, with dedicated ‘save the day’ web pages.

The stats are in favour

Last year, Reuters announced record sales over the Black Friday discount weekend despite supply chain disruption, with a quarter more transactions compared with the year before. In fact, the UK rang up its biggest ever Black Friday sales with a spend of almost £9.2bn from Black Friday to Cyber Monday last year (15% more than 2020) 1.

In 2021, the UK accounted for over 10 percent of all global Black Friday searches online.

Nationwide said its customers had made 5.95m purchases by 5pm, 26% up on last year and 24% up on 20192.

Over the past three years, consumer interest in both Black Friday and Cyber Monday has grown, with over half of UK consumers admitting they were interested.

Generation Z has the biggest proportion of their population taking part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with 54% planning to spend. 48% of millennials also say they will shop for deals. Following these are generation X (35%) baby boomers (15%), with the silent generation (11%) looking to spend the least3.

Clearly it’s big business.

Timing

Although the date shifts annually, since Black Friday came to the UK a decade ago, the biggest shopping event of the year always takes place on the last Friday of November and this year it falls on November 25, exactly a month before Christmas.

Many retailers are so keen to get on the bandwagon they now offer ‘Black Friday’ deals from early in November; it’s sometimes referred to as ‘Black November’.

Is it real?

According to Which? Magazine, the savings aren’t that great.

In 2021, they tracked the prices of products sold on Black Friday deals across a full year (2020) and found that 60% were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months before and after. They also found that 46% of items cost the same, or less, in December as they had done on Black Friday.

But the public perception is that it is real, and it is an opportunity that you might want to embrace if, as everyone predicts, we’re in for a lean Winter thanks to the midst of the cost of living crisis.

Opportunity for retailers and marketers

Around 7 in every 10 consumer brands participated in the Black Friday promotions in 20203 and 2021. According to statistics, Amazon does the best in terms of online sales. But fashion brands such as JD Sports and Zara were expected to see the highest demand in the fashion category.

How do SMEs take advantage?

There are lots of strategies you can adopt – bundle deals, discounts, free gifts or BOGOF for example.

Whatever you choose, the trick is to offer genuine value to your customers with deals that are promoted in a way that’s easy to understand.

You also need to ensure you’ve planned ahead, so that you have:

  • Enough stock (Black Friday is a great excuse to clear out old stock)
  • Customer service in place (extra people for handling orders and deliveries AND DON’T FORGET returns and queries)
  • Made sure your website can handle additional traffic – see our tips on how to optimise your search bar
  • Your delivery process sorted – in the States, DHL’s logistics divisions handle up to 40% more volumes in the peak season than in the rest of the year
  • Consider free delivery to convert any ‘maybes’ into ‘sales’– according to research, 91% of customers will leave a website if shipping isn’t free or fast enough – so make sure you offer both options to avoid cart abandonment.

Also when it comes to your website, it’s a good idea to link products so, for example, if you’re selling a phone, the earbuds and charger appear along with it. Similarly, if you’re selling a dress, you might want to link it with matching jewellery or a bag.

Older consumers tend not to succumb to impulse buying but those aged 25 to 34 do. In fact, a survey by finder.com claims that 78.2% of British adults succumb to impulsive online shopping, with each person spending on average £32.69 per session. And, contrary to popular belief, more men (66.4%) tend to spurge than women (63.4%)!

Marketing

Of course, marketing is key, so make sure you shout out on social media (Instagram, Facebook, twitter, tik tok etc…).

If you’re not on social media right now, why not get started?

Failing that, make sure you email your existing clients (as we all know it’s five times easier to sell to them than a new customer) with advance notice of any deals you want to promote.

You might also want to offer them an exclusive discount code (bearing in mind that they may well pass it onto their friends).

According to some, 64% of online consumers wait to buy things until they go for sale, and over 59% search for promo codes before buying anything online.

It’s a discount eat discount world out there.



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