What can European retailers expect on Black Friday 2017?

Love it or loathe it, Black Friday has become a firm fixture in the European shopping calendar. This year, it takes place on Friday 24th November, and many retailers will be discounting generously, in order to boost shopper traffic, secure sales, and fire up the Christmas shopping spirit.

We predict that, across Europe, this day will see substantial traffic uplifts, over the average November Friday. Data trends show that Spain could gain as much as a +45% boost in traffic on 24th November, while Italy and Germany could see up to +40% and +30% increases, respectively. Similarly, the UK and France could see Black Friday traffic increases of up to +20% and +8%, respectively. The anticipated traffic hikes in the UK and France could be less significant than previous years, because promotional activity will be spread across a number of days, instead of just a single day.

Extending the Black Friday feeling

ShopperTrak can report that an exciting new Black Friday trend is emerging in Europe: Traffic data from the past two years confirms that many retailers, particularly in France and the UK, are extending promotions and store activities around the day itself. The aim is to tempt consumers to engage in shopping for longer stretches of time, with ‘Black Friday weekend’ and ‘Black Friday week’ deals becoming widely available, as reported by GlobalData and the European press.

ShopperTrak data indicates that in France, where Black Friday offers are launched in the days before Black Friday itself, stores can expect an average increase in traffic of around +6% for 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of November 2017, compared to the same day averages for November. In the UK, the Black Friday shopping extravaganza is also stretched, with a week-long run-up that helps to boost traffic in stores. ShopperTrak predicts that UK stores and shopping centres will see a daily uplift of +3%, over the same day average during November 20th to 23rd this year.

Bring the buzz of Christmas forward

Best of all, Black Friday promotions bring the buzz of Christmas shopping forward. According to ShopperTrak data, many European countries are seeing festive traffic peaks begin on Black Friday or the Saturday immediately after it.

This is most clearly demonstrated in Spain, where Black Friday ­­has been the 5th busiest shopping day of the Christmas season for both 2015 (27th November) and 2016 (25th November). Furthermore, ShopperTrak data shows that the Saturday immediately after Black Friday 2016 (Saturday 26th November) was the 4th busiest day of the season in both German and UK stores. In France, that same Saturday was the 3rd busiest day of the Christmas season in 2016.

The uplift in sales that retailers generate can be remarkable. Last year, British department store chain John Lewis reported record sales for Black Friday week of just under £200m, a rise of 6.5% on the same week the year before. It was the biggest ever week in John Lewis’s trading history, and included the company’s biggest ever day, Friday 25th November.

Expect Continental Black Friday growth

The UK has committed to Black Friday extensively in the past three years, and press reports suggest that retailers — such as Currys and Argos will be more competitive on prices than ever this year. French retailers are also fully embracing the event. Leading retailers Darty and FNAC have reported successes in 2015 and 2016, and will certainly be aiming to build on these in 2017. Elsewhere on the Continent, there’s growing interest in Black Friday, particularly in Germany, Italy and Spain, according to Euromonitor.

Spectacular sales performance is the Black Friday prize retailers have their eyes on. But this will only be forthcoming if the event is meticulously planned and executed with care. What’s needed is prior insight into when the traffic surges will come, so that stores can be properly stocked, staffed, and ready to serve, in order to capitalise on the window of opportunity.

It’s a challenge, but knowing what to expect is half of the battle. Access to historical and real-time traffic data can set retailers on the path to Black Friday success through maximising sales and customer engagement prospects, and building a powerful knowledge bank for the future. Black Friday is here to stay, and with the right tools, European retailers are getting very good at hosting it.

ShopperTrak has produced an infographic to help retail businesses understand how seasonal spikes will impact their organisation. Download the infographic here.

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