Black Friday sales saw supermarkets battle it out for consumer numbers over domestic gadgets and discounted television sets. Before the dust even settles, the retail sales rush moves online to a day which the industry has named Cyber Monday with close to L650m anticipated to be spent with just the click of a mouse.
This weekend has been turned into a multi-billion pound shopping spree by retailers as they put up promotions to target pre-Christmas pay packets. Tina Spooner, the chief information officer at IMRG which is a body for online retail trade, said Black Friday marks the beginning of online shopping season and we could witness another record breaking Christmas for online traders as purchasing tendencies change.
The Christmas shopping frenzy began in earnest on Friday with police being called in to rescue the situation at Tesco Supermarkets all around the country after the staff were overwhelmed by the huge inflow of customers trying to purchase discounted television sets and electrical appliances when sales kicked off at midnight. Several retail outlets reported an influx in the number of shoppers as some high end department stores like House of Fraser, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer joined in with discounts on some gadgets and winter clothing.
David Robinson, the chief operating officer at Argos, intimated that the entire weekend was poised to be a big sales event as together with other shoppers they had ran advertisements about promotions for several days in order to appeal to customers who had just been paid. He said that there is a reason for Black Friday in the United States because it is the day after the celebration of Thanksgiving while here it is because it’s just around the final payday before Christmas.
While it is expected that several Britons will begin their Christmas shopping by physically visiting stores, an increasing number will shop from the comfort of their homes with nearly L1.5 billion expected to be spent on online purchases over the weekend. Internet traffic to online stores was exceptionally high late on Thursday evening and even on Friday forcing some retailers including Argos, Tesco and Currys to lock shoppers out of their sites until the high number of those already logged on had logged off.There were instances where shoppers were requested to wait in online queues for close to an hour just so they could start browsing. IT experts have said that the same could be witnessed tomorrow since close to 125 million website hits have been predicted to occur in a span of 24 hours. This could lead to customers’ frustrations and loss of sales by retailers.
Amazon reported that it experienced one of its busiest day ever on its UK website with over 5.5 million items ordered at the rate of 64 items per second beating the previous record of 4.1 million items held by the Cyber Monday of 2013. Michael Allen, an IT expert with Dynatrace, said that retailers’ websites were highly vulnerable due to the fact that they often depended on similar third party computer servers all over the country to host contents like images. He said that the websites are incredibly complex and when you get such unprecedented influxes in traffic, such third parties crash as well. It goes without saying that if the third parties fail then the retailers will also fail. There are industry analysts who feel that discounting has been more overused on online stores this year. Online Fashion stores are trying to convince Britons to buy winter jackets and coats despite the mild weather.
The accounting and auditing firm PwC said that 59% of stores that it monitors on a regular basis were having advertising promotions or sales in shop windows as compared to the 55% of last year. The average discount on offer was just about 40%.
David Oliver, a retail partner at PwC, has said that the present level of promotional sales indicates the impact that the very mild weather experienced in the months of September and October has had on fashion retailers. It has had a big influence on promotional decisions made by retailers, even outweighing the fact that regular consumers have a little extra money in their pockets. The influence of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is yet to be seen but it is expected that the customary annual sales games between consumers and retailers will go all the way to the very end.