Black Friday: the fine line between online and offline

The big online players are growing bigger, while some physical stores are disappearing around the country. The question for retailers is, “When will online reach its critical mass and strike a stable balance between online and offline?” It should be noted that even within this significant sales period, over 75% of sales in the UK are still expected to take place in store and there are real opportunities for the brick and mortar side of the business.

There is still life in the High Street
Using Blis data we found a 12% uplift in foot traffic during Black Friday 2018 versus a comparable control week, underlining the fact that this is not just another standard retail week and still represents an opportunity for retailers to drive sales.

However, this uplift is not consistent across the board for all retail segments. Consumer demand and perception of the benefits of Black Friday influence purchasing patterns. Consumer electronics experienced a 32% increase in visits and supermarkets saw a 22% increase – perhaps buoyed by an increasing trend towards a more varied range of in-store departments within the Big Four supermarkets across the UK – while clothing stores saw a decrease of 4%.

Additionally, when examining the foot traffic between Black Friday and Grey Friday – the week preceding – interesting patterns emerged, revealing that extending the sales period helped some retailers preempt their competitor’s promotions. Retailers within the electronics category were not particularly impacted and experienced considerably higher foot traffic on Black Friday. However, for supermarkets and home stores the extended Grey Friday sales period was especially prevalent, with foot traffic impacted by early promotional offers. For brands not directly associated with Black Friday this provides interesting opportunities to include in-store activations.

What’s interesting to note is that secondary beneficiaries, such as food and drinks outlets, were not benefiting from the influx of shoppers on the high street, with coffee shops seeing double digit decline and fast food stores experiencing 7% less foot traffic through their doors. This drop in secondary seller foot traffic could reflect objective-based shopper behaviour, with bargain Christmas or indulgence shoppers seeking to cut down on other expenses.

With more shoppers in the vicinity this presents an opportunity for these stores to integrate themselves within the Black Friday shopper journey by adapting their offerings and marketing to interrupt the Black Friday shopper journey.

With this year’s event just upon us, Blis will be sharing the trends that emerge from shoppers across the UK to identify what the current state of play is for the UK high street.

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