Black Friday is a relatively new trend in the UK market, though those based in North America are more familiar with the event; you have probably already begun to see ads and early or extended promotions for Black Friday popping up on your streams, so what’s it all about, and what predictions can we make as Data experts?
‘Black’ Friday is a term that was first used in America in the 1960s, and originated from the accounting for retail stores – the Christmas shopping rush was what many retailers relied on for moving their accounts from ‘the red’ (debt) to ‘the black’ (profits!) – and a big promotion to boost sales in the run up to Christmas saw lots of retailers offering discounts on big-ticket items the day after America’s Thanksgiving holiday. This first crept into the British market when ASDA were bought out by Walmart and, in 2013, offered the same big sale in their ASDA stores – which was such a huge success that other retailers in the UK quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
This year, when the pandemic has had such an enormous impact on the economy, and many retailers are struggling to protect their businesses, we are already seeing these deals being extended, with discounted products and big sales already being promoted ahead of Thanksgiving, but only with online sales – with in-store events being cancelled, protecting profits and examining the spending habits of consumers to shape the offerings.
Spending for 2020 overall is expected to be significantly lower than previous years – unsurprising, when you factor in the pandemic, and people are less likely to head in-store for the manic, frenzied in-person shopping events we’ve seen media coverage of previously; with social distancing and lockdown in so many places, it’s unlikely stores will allow those kinds of crowds! This lower spending means that most retailers will be launching their online discounts early, and probably with limited timescales and changing offers, following the model Amazon have used so successfully for years, to add a sense of urgency to the deals, tempting consumers to spend.
The data and history of Black Friday events fascinates us – and it means that retailers can track and then predict the way that people spend – which is the information they use to shape their future promotions; it will be interesting to see whether those predictions remain accurate in the throws of a pandemic, in a year when people are more anxious, more cautious and less frivolous than we’ve experienced as a population since the end of the second world war!
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