Royal Mail Black Friday expectations and small business strategy

The majority of retailers who are participating in Black Friday sales this year are planning discounts of up to 50%, according to research commissioned by Royal Mail.

Around one in five plan to take part in the annual Black Friday sales event, which happens on the last Friday of November each year. However, many retailers are expected to begin discounting items during the week leading up to Black Friday extending to Cyber Week – the week commencing 28th November.

The research, carried out by Yougov on behalf of Royal Mail, found that consumers could still be in line for big savings this year. 78% of retailers, who plan to take part in the annual sales event, intend to offer discounts of up to 50% on their products.

Nearly a quarter of retailers participating in Black Friday this month say they would offer free gifts to shoppers spending over a certain amount, while nearly one in five plan to offer free shipping on all online purchases.

Findings from the research suggest that the annual sales event could also be used by many retailers as a way to trial new products as part of a planned product entry strategy. Around one in ten said they planned to discount brand new products to generate interest in both the product and their business.

Nearly half (45%) of retailers interviewed expect Black Friday to account for up to 50% of their Christmas period sales. When asked how they expect this year’s sales to compare to last year, 35% said they expect sales this year to equal that of last year, 12% believe sales to be higher this year, while only 6% think sales this year’s will be less than last year.

The research findings raise some interesting questions for independent retailers. Will you be offering discounts and actively participating in Black Friday? We know from previous years that even doing nothing, you’re likely to see an uplift in sales but there are still ways to increase your chances of a boost in sales.

Obviously if you have stock which needs clearing out it’s a great time to highlight discounts. However even if you’re not actively discounting, there’s nothing wrong with a few Black Friday banners on your website, a Black Friday category to guide shoppers to the products you want to sell and obviously fill the category with gifts sets, likely Christmas present ideas and products shoppers may simply want to treat themselves to.

Discounting on Black Friday and giving away your margin may be something you’re not willing to do. Ignoring Black Friday shouldn’t be the option you choose – simply promote the products you want to sell and encourage spendy shoppers to buy them.