Black Friday in the UK: Here to stay?

2 Min Read
Alex Shepherd

As I am sure you are aware, Black Friday is a shopping event originating in America that takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The name Black Friday originates from it’s ability to tip a company from the red into the black, and this day traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US. Over the last couple of years, we have seen Black Friday become a hit in the UK. The question is, is this just a passing fad, or does it have staying power amongst our British consumers?

Black Friday only arrived in Britain a few years ago, when Walmart-owned Asda began offering special promotions surrounding the day in 2013. Promising “earth-shattering deals” on items like laptops, TVs and more, the sale sparked big crowds… and copycats. The following year, many other UK retailers were joining in for a piece of the Black Friday profits. Now, shoppers have come to expect these deals.

Last year, Black Friday sales helped to drive an unexpected jump in UK retail sales, defying many forecasts. November 2015 retail sales volumes were up 1.7% over October, much higher than the 0.5% predicted by Reuters. Even the yearly forecast, predicted to show 3% growth in sales volumes, reached an impressive 5% growth. Consumer spending both in stores and online during Black Friday was a large factor.

If last year is any indication, shoppers should be ready for another Black Friday event, right? Perhaps. A recent survey showed 31% of UK consumers think Black Friday deals are no better than sales throughout the year, and 50% think the deals are “more of a marketing gimmick.” That said, many people are still taking advantage of the sales in other ways.

Research cited by the Telegraph showed that there was a 279% increase in eCommerce on Black Friday 2015, and predicts up to 25% more people will take their shopping online this year. Although Black Friday is a retailer-driven holiday, it seems shoppers are taking advantage of the deals in their own way. They might not be out fighting someone for a TV at their local Asda, but they can still participate in the sales online from the comfort of their home.

All this goes to show that Black Friday seems to be gaining ground. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 27% of UK adults  say they plan to buy something on Black Friday or Cyber monday this year, and spend on average £203–double what people spent in 2015.

“Our research shows Black Friday and Cyber Monday are definitely here to stay, with sales over the weekend due to grow by a predicted 38% to £2.9bn,” said PwC’s retail and consumer lead Madeleine Thomson.

As for me, I think Black Friday is here to stay (at least for the time being). Of course I believe that this is a bit of a marketing vehicle, and it has been very interesting to see the examples of retailers who have gone against the grain and used their anti-Black Friday stance to their own advantage. For example, Aldi has made a point of reminding customers that they treat every day like Black Friday, while John Lewis promoted that they price match any day of the week. That said, I like a deal as much as the next man, so I will certainly be engaging in some retail therapy on and around the 25th. However, I think I will opt to do this from the comfort of my own home and do my shopping online.


Alex Shepherd

Alex Shepherd is EMEA Commercial Director at Corra. Alex has amassed over 15 years of experience in retail, with a background in advertising, client services, and ecommerce. Prior to joining Corra, he was Commercial Director at a Magento Gold Partner, where he focused on driving new Magento business.

Corra, a Publicis Sapient company, is the global commerce leader and SI helping brands and organizations grow by evaluating, building, and optimizing their digital commerce ecosystems. Our vast experience with composable and headless implementations speeds time-to-value and provides technical freedom to our clients. Our TotalCare managed services program provides gold-standard support, enhancements and ongoing commerce strategy. We are strategic thinkers, accomplished engineers, and award-winning experience designers. We believe outstanding customer experiences can’t exist without flawless technology, and that flawless technology is pointless without beautiful, human-centered design. Our clients are an integral part of our team. Together, we remove the obstacles that are limiting growth and discover new opportunities. We don’t rest until our clients achieve their full potential. Our clients’ KPIs are our KPIs. We have 20 years of experience in commerce technology, but we also know that customer expectations are constantly evolving. For this reason, we’ve built future-proof solutions and refined an agile execution process that helps our clients achieve more with less. As a Publicis Sapient company, Corra joins a global network spanning 20,000 people with 53 offices around the world enabling us to accelerate our clients’ businesses through designing and building the experiences and services their customers demand.

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