Online sales made up 75% of the overall value increase of Black Friday – GfK

Michael McLaughlin, head of retail at GfK, reveals how different retail approaches effected consumer spending on Black Friday.

This year saw retailers taking differing approaches to Black Friday; some didn’t participate, some promoted early and for longer, and some marketed without actually using the words “Black Friday”.

Despite the differing approaches, consumers responded and based on the GfK Point of Sales Tracking weekly data, this Black Friday has been the biggest yet for consumer durables.

Total sales were up eight per cent in value and six per cent in volume Year-on-Year (YoY). When comparing to the previous week (WoW), there was an uplift in value of 65 per cent and 31 per cent in volume. In fact the week of Black Friday has been the biggest sales week of 2015 to date, performing 62 per cent better than the previous highest value week.

In 2014 Black Friday madness arrived in the UK, with some ugly scenes in stores and negative media. This year learnings were applied and as a result the in-store shopping experience was more civilized, with orderly controlled queues forming outside some stores on Friday morning.

Online sales throughout November ‘highest on record thanks to Black Friday’

However, the real story in 2015 is that the majority of consumers avoided the in-store chaos of previous years and moved to shopping online. Online sales outperformed the total market sales with growth of 21 per cent in both value and volume (YoY). With 33 per cent of value and 27 per cent volume going through online, internet sales made up a whopping 75 per cent of the overall value increase for this Black Friday.

Many consumers consciously delayed making purchases in anticipation of the Black Friday deals, with sales for the week prior to Black Friday down seven per cent in value and six per cent in volume. This decline in volume was not seen in the week before Black Friday 2014.

With Christmas just a few weeks away, it wasn’t surprising to see gifting items high up on many peoples shopping lists. One of the recent must-have products, wearable technology, saw growth of 158 per cent. Action cameras saw an increase of 182 per cent, and the ongoing resurgence in turntable sales continued at 121 per cent. Health and wellbeing products were also in great demand with massage up 58 per cent and balneo therapy (including foot spas) 56 per cent.

Why Black Friday just doesn’t work on the UK High Street

TVs were one of the most fought after products last Black Friday and despite strong comparisons, TV category sales were still up 26 per cent YoY both in-store and online. This was largely driven by 43 to 50-inch models up 202 per cent and 26 to 32-inch up 40 per cent. Consumers traded up online with 35 per cent of 50-inch plus TVs being sold in value.

Shoppers also added stationery products to their online baskets, with writing instruments seeing a growth of 109 per cent online YoY. Within this, there was phenomenal web growth of crayons (up 300 per cent), colouring pencils (209 per cent) and markers (147 per cent) YoY.

Now we look forward to Christmas and again it will be interesting to see how this year’s Black Friday will impact the traditional festive shopping season. Has it provided a boost to the consumer durables markets, or will it be a repeat of last year and simply a case of pulling sales forward.

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