Online shoppers to spend £1.54bn on Black Friday

UK shoppers are set to spend a record £1.54 billion online during Black Friday, up 13 per cent on last year’s pre-Christmas discounting day, according to new figures.

A study of 210 retail websites by IMRG, the e-commerce trade body, throughout the month of November last year showed a steady rise in discounting and sales activity in the weeks leading up to ‘Black Friday’ on 23 November.

The study predicted that shoppers will spend online £8.1 billion during peak activity between 19-26 November - known as Black Friday week - representing a rise of 12.5 per cent on the amount spent last year.

IMRG suggested that a gradual extension of the discounting period over the past five years in order to help ease pressure on retail operations and maximise sales has driven the emergence of a full-month discounting exercise or so-called ‘Blackvember’.

A study of the weeks leading up to Black Friday showed that several online retailers had offered discounts of between 20-50 per cent in a bid to secure vital pre-Christmas sales.

In an analysis of the figures, Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, wrote: “Over the past two years it has also became common for retailers to ‘soft-launch’ their Black Friday campaigns.

“This involves either promoting deals that reference the main event but do not form part of an official campaign (eg ‘the Black Friday build up’) or, more subtly, changing elements on retail site pages to become black (such as the background or buy button) to instil the idea psychologically in shoppers’ minds that the deals available are Black Friday-quality.”

He added that Black Friday this year is likely to prove the most ‘online’ retail discounting day yet, as shoppers continue to shift their spending from in-store to online purchases and are unlikely to flock back to the High Street in the search of the best bargains.

“The decline in footfall on high streets has been one of the main talking points in retail throughout 2018 generally; moving toward Black Friday in 2018, there seems little evidence to suggest that the online / high street balance will be reversed,” he wrote.

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