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Retailers are ready for Black Friday – but are shoppers starting to ignore ‘peak’?

By Paul Skeldon August 27, 2018 - 6:26 am

Some 62% of online retailers may well be gearing up for Black Friday 2018, but many shoppers are less likely to be hanging on for deals and are just getting on with their lives – and their Christmas shopping – in their own sweet way.

A study by CJ Affiliate – the Holiday Intelligence Report– finds that consumers are more likely to be starting their Christmas shopping from the first week of November. From the beginning of November ecommerce increases in its share of holiday revenue and double-digit growth, particularly in the second week of November, where year-on-year order growth increased by almost a third (29%), it says.

The share of revenue for the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, on the other hand, decreased from 2016 to 2017. These weeks saw the least amount of growth for the whole of the 9-week holiday season – year-on-year order growth was only 14%.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday did still both prompt a spike in sales last year, but their control over consumers is decreasing. This report shows that other weeks are emerging as critical time periods for marketers to release promotions. If they are to maximise their returns during the Christmas period, marketers must consider these changing consumer shopping patterns and execute strategic campaigns that target consumers during the high sales conversion periods, and not just around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
– Jules Bazley, Regional Vice President, CJ Affiliate

But even early November may be optimistic. A separate survey by Rakuten Marketing suggests that, globally, the holiday shopping season has already commenced, with 48% of shoppers admitting that they have already started buying presents for the holidays.

Commissioned among more than 6,000 consumers in eight markets across America, Europe and APAC, the survey found the fashion industry can expect a bumper second half to 2018, both in the UK and at a global level. 57% of UK shoppers are looking to make fashion purchases this holiday season, 6% above the global average.

Gift shopping is now very much a borderless activity, with Europe being the most popular choice for international customers (40%). With 57% of Singapore-based shoppers looking to buy gifts from the US, and 66% of China-based shoppers keen to buy gifts from Europe, marketers in these regions must be acutely aware of the need to engage with audiences with distinct languages and channel preferences.

This is especially valuable when we know that consumers from these markets are looking to part with more money when gift buying. When purchasing for partners, Chinese shoppers will spend on average 193% more than their British counterparts.

By comparison, two-thirds (66%) of US gift shoppers are solely focused on buying from within the US. A behaviour also found among the over 65s globally (67%), perhaps suggesting ties to more cautious assumptions.

Marketers must be wary of making assumptions about consumers or risk missing out on key sales opportunities altogether. For example, 52% of respondents in China focus their gift buying on Amazon Prime Day, nearly twice the proportion of US consumers capitalising on the early opportunity for discounted items.

In Europe more generally, Black Friday is also beginning to gain a following, with customers in France (24%) and Germany (26%) adopting the date into their holiday shopping plans – despite the fact few have adopted Cyber Monday quite yet (9% and 16% respectively).

“Marketers must keep an open mind about when consumers will be looking to buy gifts as the reality doesn’t follow archetypes or publicised trends. It’s time to go beyond the traditional demographic understanding of your customers and uncover new opportunities. Bearing in mind over two thirds of shoppers in the UK and US aren’t prepared to make on-the-spot decisions as far as buying gifts is concerned, the best ads will know where the customer is on their journey to purchase. Heightened demand so early in the year is an exciting prospect but figuring out whether products are being purchased as gifts, where in the world the demand is coming from and identifying the local nuances they should be aware of will be key for marketers looking to capitalise on gift shopping for success.”
– Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe, Rakuten Marketing

Taken together the studies show that while Black Friday is a peak of sorts, increasingly the hype is dying down and shoppers are going back to their old habits: some start their Christmas shopping in July, others look for bargains around Thanksgiving (in the US) and many others just do it around about November-December time when the mood strikes them.

To be fair, the signs have been there for a couple of years. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have morphed into almost a fortnight of sales in the run up to Christmas – with Black Friday 2016 being Christened “Black Five Day” as it ran for a week. Now it is even longer.

What does this mean for retailers? While Amazon makes a big deal of Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) it too has extended the range of this peak. Now retailers have to contend with a bargain bun-fight in the run up to Christmas and have seen their most profitable season dented as a result.

The seeming decline in consumer interest, however, does leave room for retailers to persue and non-bargain fuelled run up to Christmas, not least post ‘Black Friday’, when once again retailers can ‘name their price’ as desperate and disorganised shoppers seek to fill stockings at the last minute.

  • Michael Davies
    7 months ago

    Retailers should have left it as Friday through to Monday….. Last year (2017) the UK shops were hopeless. A ton of hype and no real reductions against prices that could be seen all year around. In 2016 I saw real reductions for a 3 to 4 day period. Assuming 2018 will be the same hype as 2017… I for one will not even bother leaving my house to even look at the retailers fake reductions!

  • james
    7 months ago

    funny how consumers ignore “peak” when “peak” is now 1/4 of the year, completely ignoring any notion of what a peak is.
    they should call it “plateau” instead these days.

    “lets just make peak the whole 12 months, and expect christmas-like sales year round.”
    genius thinking that.

    it’s getting hard to offer a genuine sale or discount these days, because people are just so fatigued by the constant DFS year-round sale, month long black friday, January sales that start in October, that nobody cares any more.
    actually take a large chunk of cash off something and nobody notices any more, they assume it’s yet another inflated RRP scam.

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