Strong Black Friday performance not enough to save Christmas for ailing retailers

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, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s ‘Black Friday in the UK 2019’ report reveals that more consumers participated in Black Friday in 2019, as 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. 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 to perhaps a greater number of shoppers due to constrained disposable income.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Despite experiencing tough trading in the lead-up to the event, a number of retailers reported record Black Friday sales as economically uncertain consumers took advantage of the opportunity to purchase items at lower prices. However, as shoppers both delayed and brought forward purchases to spend over Black Friday, the event generated no incremental spend to boost retailers’ revenue in the Christmas trading period.”

As 45.1% of Black Friday shoppers delayed buying items until the event (a 4.4 ppt rise versus 2018), many retailers reported impressive trading over the period. For instance, boohoo.com recorded impressive growth over the Black Friday weekend, despite its frequent heavy promotional tactics throughout the year; John Lewis & Partners reported that revenue over the Black Friday period grew by 10%; and Mountain Warehouse recorded its biggest sales day on Black Friday itself.

Emily Salter adds: “Strong sales over the Black Friday period were, however, not enough to offset poorer performance in the rest of the Golden Quarter for a number of retailers. Many retailers also experienced slower sell-through of sale stock after Christmas, including major players Next and John Lewis & Partners as the prolific promotions in 2019 may have led to discounting fatigue among shoppers. Previously the sweetheart of UK multichannel retail, Joules reported a 4.5% drop in total sales over the Christmas trading period despite good performance during Black Friday, though this was significantly impacted by poor stock availability. John Lewis & Partners reported a 2.3% drop in total sales in Christmas trading despite 10% growth over Black Friday, indicating that even though the promotional period seems to extend every year, this did not have enough impact in a tough market.”

*Black Friday period is defined as promotional sales during Monday 25 November – 2 December 2019 inclusive

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