UK retailers hope Cyber Monday pays off after flat-footed Black Friday


Britain’s retailers are hoping the flat reaction to Black Friday on the high street, when shoppers preferred trawling the internet to visiting a department store, will pay off on Cyber Monday as the pre-Christmas discounting spree moves online, reports The Guardian.

Imported from the US like its Black Friday cousin, Cyber Monday is forecast to bring in more than £900m for online retailers – up nearly a third on last year. By the end of Cyber Monday, total sales over the four-day shopping event will surpass £3bn in the UK, some analysts have predicted.

The absence of midnight openings and crowded shops last Friday underlined the role of digital shopping in the multibillion pound outlay by consumers.

Springboard, a company which tracks shopper numbers, said online shopping had “stolen the show” over the Black Friday weekend. Footfall across the UK for the weekend was down 9.6 per cent on the year, said Springboard, noting that retailers had spread offers out over several days this year rather than limiting them to Friday.

Highlighting a wider trend for internet sales increasing their share of trade, analysts said retailers with reliable web operations were expected to do best out of the long weekend of pre-Christmas discounting.

Experts were predicting that online sales on Black Friday would have set a one-day record of just more than £1bn.

The only retail destinations to buck the downward trend brought about by internet shopping were retail parks, which over the weekend had a 4.9 per cent rise in footfall on a year ago. Their shopper numbers were down on the Friday but rose on Saturday and Sunday, probably as a result of shoppers picking up purchases bought online using click and collect services.

“The volume of activity in retail stores over the Friday and Saturday of the Black Friday weekend is lower than last year and the evidence clearly points to the fact that much of this is due to a significant increase in shoppers using online to participate in the event,” said Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard.

“The growth of click and collect in supporting store visits should not be underestimated, particularly for retail parks, with many shoppers now opting to buy online but to then visit stores to pick up their purchases.”

Online sales on Black Friday are expected to have risen to £1.07bn this year, up 32 per cent on the same big shopping day in 2014, according to predictions from data company Experian and the trade group Interactive Media in Retail Group. If the forecast proves accurate it will be the first time that UK online retail sales exceed £1bn in a single day, they added. They predict Cyber Monday sales of £943m, up 31 per cent on a year ago.

The Centre for Retail Research said spending online and in-stores over the four-days was expected to hit £3.49bn.

Online retailer Amazon said Black Friday had been its busiest UK day on record with more than 7.4m items sold, at a rate of around 86 a second.