Black Friday hits UK

14 November 2014

LONDON: More UK retailers are gearing up for Black Friday as US-owned businesses have imported the tradition and as it has gained widespread awareness among UK consumers.

A survey of 1,000 UK shoppers by consumer experience business eDigitalResearch and Global Consumer Knowledge Centre IORMA revealed that a "staggering" 72% had heard of the shopping term Black Friday and that almost one quarter (22%) had bought something on Black Friday in the past.

Chris Russell, Joint CEO at eDigitalResearch and IORMA Board Advisor, noted that until very recently few people were even aware of the term but many were now "actively anticipating the day to arrive" – 28 November this year.

He emphasised that retailers needed to be ready to exploit the opportunity. "The entire retail experience and customer journey – from marketing to logistics – needs to be exceptional," he stated.

The first stirrings of UK Black Friday came in 2010, when online retail giant Amazon promoted it, but it really gained traction in 2013, when others, including Walmart-owned supermarket chain Asda, offered deals in store.

An Asda spokesperson told Retail Week: "Customers told us they loved the amazing deals on offer. We will see even bigger and better deals [this year]."

Among the other retailers preparing for the day are supermarket Sainsbury's, department store John Lewis and online merchant Shop Direct.

"This is the first time we have done it," said Sainsbury's non-food director James Brown. "But we have seen what they do in the States ... we talked about how our customers are increasingly aware of the Black Friday event."

The advertising industry stands to benefit from an extra boost to the annual pre-Christmas spend. Shop Direct, for example, is investing £1m to promote a week of Black Friday events and Sainsbury will also be promoting its deals.

Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday, has less resonance among UK consumers – just under half (45%) had heard the term – but the date roughly co-incides with a surge in online retail activity in the UK as almost one third (30%) of consumers expected to make the majority of their Christmas purchases around then.

"What was once a traditional event originating in one country can very quickly now migrate in the global online borderless world, to markets in other countries," noted John Andrews, Chairman and CEO of IORMA.

Data sourced from eDigitalResearch, Retail Week; Additional content by Warc staff