Online 'steals' Black Friday

1 December 2015
NEW YORK/LONDON: Consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are as keen as ever to grab a Black Friday bargain but they increasingly prefer to do so from the comfort of their own homes.

In the US, a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey of more than 4,000 shoppers, reported by Retailing Today, estimated that 103m people had shopped online compared to 102m who had shopped in stores.

Further, mobile is now firmly established as an integral part of the day. Some 56.7% of smartphone owners used their phone to research products, purchase holiday items, check in-store availability and other mobile shopping activities while 57.7% of tablet owners used their device to browse holiday deals and purchase items.

"It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

The NRF predicted 121m people would shop online on Cyber Monday, a 4.6% drop on last year's figures.

In the UK, Springboard, a company tracking shopper numbers, said that online shopping had "stolen the show" over the Black Friday weekend. Retail footfall across the UK was down 9.6% on the year, the Guardian reported, although that in retail parks was up 4.9%.

"The growth of click and collect in supporting store visits should not be underestimated, particularly for retail parks," noted Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.

Online sales for Friday in the UK are expected to top £1bn for the first time, up 32% on last year, while sales on Cyber Monday are forecast to rise 31% to £943m.

Online retailer Amazon said that Black Friday had been its busiest-ever UK day, as it sold 86 items every second to reach a total of more than 7.4m.

Christodoulos Chaviaras, an analyst at Barclays, highlighted "three new attributes" observed at this year's Black Friday.

Retailers were pacing themselves more with their promotional stance, he said, while their IT infrastructure was better prepared than last year.

And "customers increasingly preferred online shopping from the comfort of home this year" rather than to brave the crowds and unseemly in-store brawls.

Data sourced from Retailing Today, Guardian, Metro; additional content by Warc staff
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