It’s going to be a big day Friday. Yes, it’s my birthday. Ok, that might not impress you. But how about the fact that shoppers in Britain are set to spend nearly £2bn in a single day. That’s more like it.
Visa Europe believes they’ll spend nearly £1.9bn, with £721m of it being committed online. Online is where the biggest spending leap will come. While sales at physical stores are set to rise just 4% to £1.2bn, e-sales will surge 17%.
That may be a smaller rise in percentage terms than the 44% we saw a year ago, but with an e-tail market that’s so much bigger now, that’s only to be expected and definitely shouldn’t be seen as a sign that interest is tailing off.
Why such an anaemic rise for sales at physical stores? Some analysts say it’s about retailers not taking part on Black Friday for fear of denting sales further into the season. Others say that UK consumers are still split over their feelings for Black Friday itself and the shopping frenzy it creates.
Of course, while shoppers choosing web over physical stores can avoid most of that frenzy, online isn’t all plain sailing. Last year some retailers’ websites were overwhelmed and crashed, while too many retailers had trouble getting deliveries out on time.
And even though most have spent this year investing in capacity and delivery, the strength of demand can still cause sites to crash. Already this month the Argos website crashed as the retailer launched some strong pre-Black Friday deals.
So what else is likely to happen this year?
- Visa Europe said the biggest shopping rush in physical stores will be at lunchtime on Friday, but for online it will be during the commute which means people will of necessity be using smartphones or tablets rather than traditional computers.
- Cyber Monday (November 30) will see a further £629m spent online but Black Friday will still beat it in terms of overall online spend.
- While Asda has opted out of the Black Friday Frenzy, other big names such as John Lewis will be taking part. Amazon is doubling its deals to 7,000 and is hoping to improve on the 5.5m orders it saw on Black Friday 2014.
- The Black Friday effect will continue into next weekend but many retailers are aiming to get in early and are offering major discounts all this week. Estimates of the week’s total spend are around £3bn.