Retail analyst IMRG expects Black Friday online sales to rise by 15% to £7.4 billion over the week from Friday, November 20 to Monday, November 27.
The retail sector will hope that the discounting period will build momentum ahead of Christmas after October registered the first annual drop in sales since December last year.
IMRG says that retailers are adopting new tactics relating to Black Friday as the American imported sale evolves.
The news follows predictions by VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research that UK consumers will spend £2.6 billion on Black Friday this year, an 8% increase on the £2.4 billion spent in 2016.
In previous years, in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, many sites advertised prominently, often on their homepages, that they would be participating and encouraged visitors to sign up to a newsletter, IMRG notes. This year notably fewer have taken that approach, with most opting not to mention Black Friday at all in advance of the anticipated peak week commencing today.
An obvious driver for this shift is that the idea of ‘Black Friday coming soon’ deters shoppers from making purchases earlier in the Christmas shopping season in the expectation that the best deals are yet to come. This may explain the dip in watch sales in October.
“Black Friday has created this idea that there is ‘a time’ to shop in the lead-up to Christmas, but this has resulted in a lull in sales activity preceding Black Friday week. Consequently, many retailers are already running discount campaigns well in advance of the Black Friday week to help stimulate sales – we are tracking 210 UK retail sites daily throughout November and, on Monday 13 November (one week before the peak week begins), 80 of them were actively promoting discounts on their homepages,” said IMRG strategy and insight director said Andy Mulcahy.
“Of that 80, just six were marketed as Black Friday events, three mentioned that their Black Friday event was coming soon and five used the term to run associated, but not actual, Black Friday campaigns – such as ‘the Black Friday warm-up…’ or ‘why wait for Black Friday…’. It’s also become common to use black backgrounds to campaign imagery to imply it’s Black Friday, but without overtly mentioning it.”
The analysis suggests a cat and mouse game between retailers and customers. “What’s interesting is that some of the discounts on offer are already very high – of the 80 actively promoting discounts, 46 had ‘up to 30%’ as their headline discounts with 33 of those marketing 50% and over,” said Mulcahy.
“This raises some interesting questions; will the deals on Black Friday be bigger than that, or are deals that are just as good already available? Will shoppers realise they can get really good deals throughout November anyway and adapt their purchasing behaviour, or will the psychological power of the term ‘Black Friday’ make them delay spend in anticipation that it’s still ‘the’ time to shop? And finally, based on the data above, does Black Friday now technically last for the whole month of November, just without using the name necessarily.”