Black Friday 2020
With Black Friday fast approaching and retailers preparing for the kind of overwhelming demand we have come to expect from the late-November sales, it should come as no surprise that this year’s Black Friday will (much like everything else this year) present unprecedented change. According to the results of a 2019 study, 52% of UK customers showed a preference for Black Friday over every other holiday-related sales event (32% of people interested in the pre-Christmas sales). In fact, this interest seemed to only be increasing; in 2018, more than four million transactions were processed on Amazon’s UK platform on Black Friday and in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday 2019, Amazon’s UK platform saw a 30% increase in membership. It is, therefore, vital to access the statistics of previous years, forecasts for this year and, of course, the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the 27th November 2020.
Predictions from Statista.com, who forecast an £8.57 billion total spend in 2019, have claimed there will be a 12% decrease to £7.504 billion in 2020. This stems from, for the most part, the recent second lockdown announcement in the UK and the drastic drop in offline spending this will cause. With the highstreets closed, it is predicted that there will be an increase of £2 billion spending online in the UK alone, but this will not be enough to make up for the loss of a predicted £3 billion from the highstreets.
The table shows the data of online and offline purchases over the past 4 years. From this, it is clear that in-person shopping was gradually being phased out, but the Financial Times (amongst others) believe that the COVID-19 pandemic could be the final nail in the coffin, as popular online conglomerates such as Amazon take over.
In 2020, it is predicted that 88% of UK shopping will take place online, only 12% of this being through a click and collect feature. This could have drastic consequences on the UK economy. It is still widely disputed amongst experts whether the Black Friday sales have a positive or negative impact on the economy as a whole. The general theory behind it, states that even with the lower profit margin of the deals, the public interest and consequential increase in purchases will, on the whole, increase public spending. This, naturally, has some weight. Despite the predictions from statista.com, Finder reports that the UK spent a record £5.6 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in 2019, over 10% of the 3 month Christmas period over 1 weekend. However, many believe that retailers stand to lose money on Black Friday, as they would have been able to sell an equivalent quantity in the lead up to Christmas for regular prices.
The issue this year lies in the lack of public interest for Black Friday. Since the most recent announcement of UK lockdown, pwc.co.uk claims that interest saw a drop from 51% to 38%. This could be due to the pandemic but, more accurately follows a trend in recent years of Brits becoming disenfranchised with Black Friday: “29% claim that the deals aren’t exciting and 20% believe that deals aren’t genuine.”
Nevertheless, there is a consensus amongst economists and statisticians alike, who agrees that those in the UK who are interested in Black Friday will be looking to spend more than in previous years. This could be due to cancellations of holidays and plans during the pandemic which have led to a surplus of cash amongst some of the population’s biggest spenders. Those in the 35-44 age group show clear signs of this and on the whole, those who take part are predicted to spend £21 more on average, than in previous years. This could, however, have something to do with the fact that Black Friday fell on 23rd November in 2018, which skewed some statistics due to it being before payday for many and was a year that failed to meet expectations.
Amongst the flurry of statistics which arise from Black Friday every year, sits possibly the most important data – the data that we, as the public sometimes forget in the hectic fog of consumerism: what people actually buy. A 4% predicted increase in health and beauty sectors and an 8% increase in children’s clothing show that many people in the UK are looking to do their Christmas shopping early. The same data suggests that there will be a decrease of 12% interest in electronics compared to last year, although this still remains the most popular purchase on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
It is predicted that this year will see drops in price for the widely anticipated next-generation games consoles, (PS5 and Xbox Series X) as well as drastic drops on the older PS4 and Xbox 1. As well as older versions of OLED screen TVs are also predicted to drop in price.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to drastically increase the amount of online shopping this coming Black Friday and while it may not recuperate the substantial loss sustained over the lockdown, those in the UK who were able to save money over the lockdown will be looking to spend in excess as normal.
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