Black Friday Sales Record

By Daniel Thomas and Michael Race
BBC News: Business journalists

Image source, Getty Images

Black Friday has seen strong sales, according to early data. Analysts suggest that the event may see record-breaking levels of business.

Barclaycard reported that transactions were up 23.3% compared to the same time last year at 13:00 GMT.

Analysts PwC predict £8.7bn will be spent – up from £7.8bn in 2019 and about twice as much as last year’s event which took place during lockdown.

Even though there are warnings that you should expect some shortages and less generous discounts, this is still true.

Black Friday is a day when retailers cut prices in order to attract shoppers before Christmas.

Officially, it’s Friday 26 November. However, the retailers’ campaigns cover the entire month. They also started earlier than usual this year with some starting in October.

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Barclaycard, which processes £1 in every £3 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK, also said transactions had increased by 4.2% than in 2019.

Barclaycard Payments chief executive Rob Cameron said that Black Friday is off to an “strong start”, despite the country’s economic difficulties.

Retailers will be happy to note that their sales volume has increased to levels pre-pandemic and is now higher than in 2019. The data so far looks very promising, and Black Friday should prove to be one of the best shopping days ever.

Metapack, which connects major retailers and parcel delivery service providers, stated that data showed that Monday and Tuesday would be the busiest shipping days. This is the same information as last year.

PwC predicts about 60% of adults in the UK will make purchases, spending an average of £280 each.

However, people don’t only shop for bargains. Protestors rallied at Amazon offices in Europe, the US, and UK on Friday. Unions, equality, and environmental groups said that Black Friday “epitomises over-consumption”.

Extinction Rebellion is now attempting to block access and entrances from Amazon UK depots.

KPMG analysts Linda Ellett said that deals could be worse because of the global supply problems retailers face due to the pandemic and shortages in HGV drivers, warehouse workers, and other factors.

Black Friday will be the biggest test of supply chains for the “golden third” retailers.

Many shoppers are now buying ahead of Christmas, fearing they might not get what they’re looking for if they wait until last minute.

Black Friday began as an event that only lasted one day, but has become a month-long blizzard full of promotional opportunities.

You can expect to see fewer deals this time due to the difficulties of stock availability and labor shortages. When their prices are so high, many retailers cannot afford to reduce their prices.

To ease the demands of retailers, they also wish to decrease the load on distribution centres that pick up and pack goods for shipment over Black Friday Weekend.

Many businesses are removing next-day delivery options in order to cope.

This event will be avoided by some businesses, particularly smaller ones.

Although Black Friday may seem to have lost some of its glamour, it is still an enormous shopping day. It will likely be the largest retailers, with the greatest scale and most influence over suppliers that will handle the worst.

Some retailers may not be able meet the demand for certain products on a given day. This could lead to lengthy waits before orders are processed and shipped.

Analysts believe that brands will be able to sell enough products because they have invested months in preparation.

John Lewis said to BBC, “We have worked closely together with our suppliers. We are confident we have an extensive range deals across many categories that will be great value for customers.

AO World hired 500 more drivers in advance of the scheduled day. “Like most electrical retailers, we currently are unable to obtain all stock needed for categories such as gaming, largely due to global microchip shortages.

“We work closely with our partner to make sure our customers get the excellent service and products they expect.”

Metapack believes most retailers can avoid “perfect storms”, but some could get unlucky.

Senior vice president Tom Forbes stated that “we’ve seen retailers reach out to customers and suggest they buy early for Christmas, which should alleviate the pressure.”

Some big brands such as M&S and Next have shunned Black Friday this year, with M&S again saying its focus was on “offering great value throughout the whole season”.

Independent shops are also opting out because they can’t afford to give deep discounts during the Christmas season.

Mike Cherry, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, encouraged shoppers to help small local businesses that are “pinning our hopes for a bumper festive season after last year’s restrictions.”

He stated, “Rather than reaching out for the same brands, where deals may not be all that they seem in every case, shop bespoke and receive one-to-1 personal service, and try some new restaurants and cafes.”

A warning was also issued to shoppers that not all offers may be what they appear.

Which? conducted an investigation and found that 92% of Black Friday deals in 2020 were the same price or cheaper than they were six months before. The investigation by Which?, a consumer rights group, found that 92% were either the same or less expensive than the Black Friday deals of the previous six months.

“I’m not playing that particular game.”

York’s Potions Cauldron gift shop is not participating in Black Friday.

Phil Pinder, Manager of Amazon’s Customer Service Department believes it is an American invention that has been driven by Amazon and other retailers who are trying to squeeze everyone out.

I read an article that said some electrical retailers would run out of stock before Christmas if they continue to offer Black Friday discounts.

“I am not participating in that game…it seems unlogical.”

The shop that sells sweets and magical drinks has seen good sales this year, but is now experiencing product shortages because of supply chain problems.

Phil says it is missing about £50,000 of stock it hoped to sell before Christmas which is “a real headache”.

This Christmas, he advises shoppers to buy ahead: “If your goal is to purchase a particular present this holiday season, get it right away.” Last-minute Christmas sales won’t happen this year, as I don’t believe the retailers have sufficient stock.


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