In a clear sign that Christmas and Black Friday shopping has been pulled forward in the UK, retailers recorded a huge uplift in online sales for week commencing 1 November, with sales growth up +61%, the highest year-on-year rate since June and fourth-highest this year.
While November always features high volumes of online sales, as people start to think about Christmas gifts and retailers switch on Black Friday discounts as the month unfolds, seeing such a spike this early in the month is a change. The announcement of the second national lockdown the evening before (31 October) – and subsequent closure of non-essential stores – is likely to have driven a stronger focus among shoppers to get their purchasing done earlier this year.
Retailers have also launched their Black Friday campaigns earlier this year, possibly in response to massive increases in site traffic. Of the 320 retailers IMRG is monitoring, on 11 November 11.6% had a campaign live in 2020, vs 3.6% for the same day in 2019.
In contrast to some of the more pessimistic forecasting around Black Friday sales that seems to be emerging, this impressive growth indicates that November is well on track to be a record-breaking month for online retail. It is important to remember that whilst Black Friday is still the peak shopping day of the year, its stand-alone significance is waning as Black Friday has evolved into a month-long sales period. Good news for retailers trying to manage this high demand.
Justin Opie, Managing Director, IMRG