Why Black Friday Became Really Important in the UK in 2018

Black Friday is expected to be big in the U.K., big enough to outpace overall fourth-quarter growth roughly fivefold.

It’s been a rough year for apparel retail in the U.K. amid Brexit malaise, subdued consumer confidence and store closures, though analysts at GlobalData expect the year-ending “golden quarter” will mark at least a tepid uptick for sales as shoppers are a bit more keen to spend.

Forecasts for Q4 forecast that retail sales will rise 2 percent to 98.8 billion pounds ($128.4 billion) for the three months to the end of 2018.

“It has been a less than stellar year for many clothing retailers and Q4 will be no different. Midmarket players are expected to be left out in the cold once again as shoppers trade up for enhanced quality, making it yet another challenging Christmas ahead for clothing market leader M&S,” GlobalData noted in a release last week. “Giving shoppers a reason to make wants-driven purchases, and forgo spending on other categories, through compelling product and value for money will be the key to a successful festive season. Online pureplays such as ASOS and boohoo.com are likely to be the biggest winners this Christmas given their potent mix of discounts, and fast and convenient fulfillment.”

Black Friday, however, looks to be the biggest bright spot in what’s been a dim year for retail in the U.K. Sales on Nov. 23 are forecast to grow faster than the overall U.K. retail market for the fourth quarter.

“Spend during the Black Friday period will account for 10.5 percent of Q4 spend,” GlobalData retail analyst Zoe Mills said Wednesday. “Growth will continue to slow year-on-year given the prolific discounting throughout 2018 so far as retailers struggle to convince shoppers to spend.”

Fashion and beauty are expected to be the best-performing sectors this Black Friday.

“We have seen more clothing retailers participating in the event each year, and while a number of big names such as Marks & Spencer are not participating in the event, online pureplays such as ASOS, boohoo.com and Gymshark are encouraging consumers to move online to get a discount,” Mills said.

The prospect of those forthcoming discounts—with more than 55 percent of shoppers who plan to buy on Black Friday admitting they’re holding out for the anticipated price reductions—is driving the hit to full-price purchases.

“It highlights how Black Friday is encouraging shoppers to hold back [from] buying full-price items and purchasing during other discounting periods prior to the event as shoppers predict that retailers will drop prices even further during Black Friday, heavily impacting retailer sales in the weeks prior to the event,” Mills said.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine, Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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