Following the frenzy that many witnessed during last year’s Black Friday sales day where some customers brawled over goods, Jade Burke looks at how it’s shaping up this year and why the UK market is taking it more seriously…
Black Friday is gradually becoming a well-known day for most retailers, and has started to become one of the largest events for knockdown goods and deals.
The annual date has been a part of the US for years, having begun in the 60s as a post-Thanksgiving shopping day. But now the sales day, which falls on November 27th this year, is becoming a massive annual event for retailers, distributors and vendors across the UK.
Last year many retailers reported soaring sales, with Ebuyer.com receiving an order every second, while John Lewis sold a tablet every second. Now retailers are preparing even earlier to ensure they can provide customers with the goods they are after.
Stuart Carlisle, MD of Ebuyer.com, previously told PCR: “We’ve invested a lot of cash on infrastructure and it’s definitely paid off. We’re prepared for the next three to five years and we’ve got a lot more to come as well.
“I’m really proud of the guys – it was something we’d geared up for this year and we knew we were on for a good Christmas.”
The UK market is also beginning to take Black Friday much more seriously as more retailers and distributors are starting to see the benefits of offering discounted products. “It’s so successful for these retailers, and I think what you’ll find now is a greater emphasis on that period, as there’s a lot to get right. It requires a lot of planning and resource,” says Adam Gay, retail director at Tech Data.
In addition, distributor Caseking also welcomes Black Friday, as senior account manager Lee Williamson, explains: “The main benefits of Black Friday for Caseking is that we can push new key lines that have arrived in the market, to gain more visibility to help our resellers promote and offer special offers.”
Other tech firms are also looking to pull customers in over the course of the year, rather than just on Black Friday. Alex Ebeid, Lenovo’s UK and Ireland consumer director, adds: “The real thing for the industry to is to really ensure that it’s not just pulling forward or changing the shape of when people purchase through discounting, and making sure over the year we’re all giving our customers the better experiences for the year, not just on the discounted products, and giving them a reason to buy outside of those as well.”
Lenovo is also ensuring it works closely with retailers, so that they are well stocked up before the promotional period hits.
Even though the sales day did bring a lot of custom to the tech industry, there were some drawbacks. As Black Friday kicked off in November retailers saw a hike in sales, but soon enough they saw a dip as consumers tightened their belts for the upcoming Christmas season and started buying later as a result. “If you look at last year, Black Friday probably had a big percentage of strong sales in November, then there was a four or five-week lull, then leading up to Christmas it kicked off again,” says Gay.
“Our role within that whole piece is also about understanding the pressures around it such as deliveries – courier networks not being able to manage the demand and so on. It’s about trying to streamline that process and make it as smooth as possible during the period.
Companies are now also trying to ensure that they do not pull forward demand for just one day of the year, which could be detrimental to the last weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year. “I think that’s the challenge for the market and for manufacturers and for retailers, how do we help stimulate the market outside of those promotional peaks, be it through other promotions or trade-ins, having to find a way of keeping demand over a length of time rather than just one week,” adds Ebeid.
While retailers may have seen a dip in sales after Black Friday, others like Tesco witnessed a mad rush of shoppers during the sales day, where consumers were caught fighting on video trying to get hold of Blaukpunkt TVs.
With any new promotional period there will of course be teething problems, but now that retailers have seen just how popular Black Friday has become, and the potential it has to grow even further, this year they should be much more prepared for the excitement that will follow.