While the High Street won’t be seeing the deal-hungry crowds of years past for Black Friday due to England’s second lockdown, research has revealed that many individuals were still adamant on taking to the shops to hunt down the best deals in light of a Covid-driven tighter Christmas budget, prior to the announcement over the weekend.
It is estimated that this year Brits will spend an estimated £7 billion over the Black Friday weekend but the question remains as to how much of this would have been in bricks and mortar High Street stores. Cyber Monday and Black Friday usually differ in that shoppers tend to rush to the shops for in-store only deals on Black Friday, whilst Cyber Monday was exclusively reserved for online deals. Packed car parks and crowded shops were predicted to have fallen from favour even more than usual due to Coronavirus. Black Friday has been losing its clout in the British psyche for several years and the latest pandemic restrictions could be what finishes it off in future years.
In a survey by Accenture, some 61% of consumers said they are less inclined to shop in-store in an attempt to reduce health risks. Interestingly however, the same number said that they are more likely to make purchases at companies who are committed to health, safety and hygiene and that if shops were acting responsibly and in accordance with government guidance, they would have been willing to venture out, if the discounts were substantial enough. It was also noted that it is not only the spread of infection that was putting consumers off hitting the shops this Black Friday weekend, but also the lack of financial security the pandemic has caused, with as many as 22% of people saying their spending will be restricted for the remainder of this year.
What has been proven in the past few days though is that we are a nation of shoppers. Queues have been forming at key retailers with consumers getting their ‘fix’ before the month-long shutdown and also getting ahead with their Christmas shopping. According to industry figures, the number of shoppers on Tuesday 3 November was up 19% compared to the previous Tuesday, with footfall markedly higher in shopping centres and retail parts, according to retail data firm Springboard. Stores have also extended their opening hours to accommodate higher visitor numbers in a trend that may carry through to December.
Retailers had been trying to encourage customers to start their seasonal shopping earlier by extending their deals, in a bid to keep the spend up. A case in point is Bensons for Beds, who are replacing Black Friday with ‘Black November’, offering discounts for the whole month. The ability of shoppers to feel reassured will surely be a blueprint for the much-anticipated increased footfall when restrictions lift, which will be important to the end of a tricky year of trade for many retailers.
The next few weeks could produce some interesting data for the retail industry, some of which may be able to provide insight into what consumer behaviour may look like in 2021 and also see how the usually buoyant festive trading season is able to see retailers into their plans for the next year and beyond