Digital Retail Insight

Nov 19: Digital Retail Insight

Late Black Friday Leaves Browsing in Decline

James Hardiman, Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:

“The clear driver of November’s decline was, of course, the absence of Black Friday in the month this year in comparison to 2018. However, as it has moved back by only one week, not all the pre-event consumer research and preparation was lost from November. Also, in line with the trend over the last couple of years, retailers have unveiled their promotions further ahead of the main event to beat the competition in what is now a key battle ground of the retail calendar.

“Despite this large distorting effect, not all categories suffered declines in visits, as House & Garden websites still managed to record growth of 1%, which is a considerable achievement. This bodes well for the category, which has started the festive season off well. As it is not traditionally a category that Black Friday targets, it escaped the month unscathed.

“Also, Department Stores were clearly the place to go for consumers on the hunt for the best deals ahead of Black Friday, with the category recording the largest increases in both time spent and page views per visit. This bodes well for the category ahead of the crucial festive period, which retains by far the highest proportion of all retail visits.”

Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise

“Black Friday falls one week later this year compared to last year. But like previous years, major retailers have started their promotions earlier to cut through the noise and consumers are responding.

“In the week before Black Friday (ending 23/11), the top 20 retailers processed 5% more transactions compared to the equivalent week last year (ending 17/11). The average conversion rate was also higher at 4.02% this year vs. 3.86% last year.

“Looking wider at the overall retail industry, online engagement has increased too. The average number of retail visits per person reached 32.7 the week before Black Friday, compared to 30.1 visits last year. Searches for this year’s hot products, such as “Nintendo Switch”, “Lego”, “Fitbit” and “iPhone 11”, have all grown by more than +50% over the month of November.

“This lead up period has shown some positive results - consumers are more engaged online and top retailers have seen an uplift in transactions. Retailers need to keep this momentum heading into next key month, which will include Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day.”


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