UK shopper traffic on Black Friday could fall by 2.8 per cent year-on-year according to ShopperTrak, on top of a 4.05 per cent fall last year. Retailers are looking to spread their promotional activity over a longer period while shoppers are wary of crowds.
Nonetheless an estimated £5bn of sales are expected to be made over Black Friday weekend spanning Thursday November 24 through to Cyber Monday November28.
Steve Richardson, UK and MEA director at Shoppertrak, said: “While we’ve seen lots of build-up to Black Friday, this year there is a marked shift not only in terms of retailers’ adoption of the promotional event but also consumers’ participation in it, perhaps that Black Friday fatigue is setting in.”
And Revo chief executive Ed Cooke said: "Despite the expected slight fall in shopper footfall over Black Friday, studies show retail sales are up and consumer spending remains resilient post-Brexit.” Cooke pointed out that 90 per cent of sales continue to involve a physical shop in some way.
Martin Summerscales, head of retail consultancy at CBRE, said: “Retailers have learnt the lessons of previous forays into Black Friday events, which did little to build brand equity and became negatively perceived through poorly executed store-based promotions. Increasingly retailers are using the event more tactically, shifting the focus away from stores and elongating the period over which offers are available; a more fitting term may now be ‘Black Fortnight’."
On the back of these forecasts landlords are already preparing for a more subdued Black Friday. Ed Jenkins, head of UK retail at Standard Life Investments, said “We’re expecting this year to be a mixed affair with more brands spreading their discounts across a week rather than having one-day offers. Many we’ve spoken to are taking a ‘watch and wait’ approach – assessing sales between now and Black Friday before finalising plans and creating more last-minute, reactive offers.”
And intu unveiled research showing that only 51 per cent of the 2,000 shoppers surveyed intended to buy anything on Black Friday. Gordon McKinnon, operations director at intu, said: “The jury is still out on Black Friday with our research revealing an uneven enthusiasm for the date. Last year we witnessed a cautious start to the day with a measured trickle of shoppers but, by the end of the day’s trading, more than one million shoppers had visited our centres – 30 per cent more than any usual Friday.”