This year’s Black Friday footfall increased by six percent compared to 2018, despite challenges including Brexit uncertainty.
Official data from ShopperTrak shows that overall footfall for the year sits 0.2 percent up against the same period last year. Saturday, meanwhile was expectded to be the second busiest shopping day of the entire Christmas period, according to the Festive Peak Shopping 2019/20 Report released by Sensormatic Solutions.
The report maps the top five busiest UK shopper traffic days for peak trading 2019, based on insight from more than 1.5 million data collection devices in the retail marketplace and 40 billion shopper visits captured by the ShopperTrak brand each year.
This, the report suggests, demonstrates the increasing importance of the promotional event in driving in-store footfall – not just across the Black Friday weekend, but also in building momentum into Christmas trading, as retailers extend their in-store promotion strategies.
Having insight into how many shoppers are walking into their stores, along with the timing, helps retailers make informed decisions and create more impactful marketing promotions during the retail industry’s busiest shopping days.
Nick Pompa, Global General Manager at ShopperTrak, said: “We know that shoppers are in the driving seat now on how, when and where they shop, but our data shows that Black Friday still ranks as a key day for bricks-and-mortar. Our data helps retailers kick start their peak trading strategies and maximise their returns.”
“By leveraging insight from shopper traffic trends, retailers can optimise scheduling decisions, merchandising of floor sets, inventory fulfilment and even loss prevention awareness to help maximise sales opportunities presented during the busiest days of peak trading. Making the most of the footfall you have, is more important now than ever before.”
Emotions run high in the build up to Christmas, with sentimental songs, moving charitable causes, and emotive TV ads all tugging at consumer heartstrings.
So, in the midst of the festive shopping frenzy that starts this week with Black Friday and continues right through to the January sales, retailers mustn’t overlook the impact of sentiment on their festive campaigns.
Christmas spending remains strong, with a recent survey suggesting almost nine-in-ten are planning to spend the same or more than they did last year, so retailers have it all to play for. Despite some scepticism around the value of Black Friday deals, UK shoppers are still expected to spend over £2.5 billion on the day – a significant rise from last year.
With a continuing trend for consumers to move online during this busy shopping period, rather than face the crowded High Street, retailers need to pay particular attention to how their brand and products are perceived in the digital world.
The peak shopping days place a lot of focus on low cost deals, but getting the cheapest price isn’t the only thing that impacts a consumer’s decision to buy. Factors such as value for money, simplicity in delivery and returns, and the quality of customer service are also crucially important.
And, as consumers do the majority of their festive shopping research online, their opinions of a retailer or product are greatly influenced by online content in the form of reviews, articles, or blog posts.
As festive shopping drives an increase in online traffic around this type of content, retailers need to ensure their brand messaging and products are seen in environments where surrounding sentiment is positive. This can be achieved through a holistic, semantic approach to content analysis that goes beyond the words on the page and looks at the relationships between those words to gain an in-depth understanding of what the content actually says, before making the decision to place an ad.
Sentiment analysis identifies and categorises opinion expressed in written content such as articles and reviews to determine whether the attitude towards a particular product, brand or retailer is positive or negative. While constructive, positive opinions affirm the shopper’s decision and encourage them along the path to purchase, negative sentiment can just as easily influence undecided shoppers and can prevent a potential consumer clicking ‘buy now’.
In general retailers will want to ensure their ads and messaging appear in high quality, brand-safe environments, and at this vital time of year they should take advantage of relevant targeting segments such as ‘Black Friday bargains’, ‘Cyber Monday deals’ or ‘Christmas gifts’ to ensure their messages resonate with the contextual environment.
But they must also actively ensure their ads are kept away from negative feeling, and placed alongside content with an affirmative vibe, reaching consumers when they are feeling positive about the product and putting sentiment at the heart of their festive campaigns.
It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that major retail periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday would boil down to anything other than price for consumers.
But as competition between brands gets tougher and tougher year-on-year, and sales periods start to span days and weeks rather than short 24-hour bursts, consumer expectations are starting to shift. And more importantly, brands are having to raise their games in order to meet these changing demands.
As a specialist MarTech company, we have a wealth of data on how and where consumers spend their money – and our insights show that while Black Friday is showing no signs of stopping when it comes to drawing in crowds of eager bargain hunters, it is also apparent that price is no longer the deciding factor when it comes to their purchasing decisions.
Whereas once consumers were solely concerned with finding the best and cheapest deals they could on Black Friday – stampeding through shopping centres and fighting in the aisles to do so – the options are now so vast that filtering through the mass of marketing and promotions is simply too big a task for those seeking a quick and easy sales haul.
Today, consumers often approach Black Friday with a clear idea of what they want to buy and the price they’re prepared to pay. The growing popularity of price comparison sites and voucher code offers mean shoppers are much savvier when it comes to applying discounts on top of discounts – they know how to get the best deals themselves, meaning it’s no longer enough for brands to simply slash their prices and hope for the best.
What we’re starting to see is consumers placing a much greater importance on a smooth and seamless customer journey – from hyper-personalised offers landing in their inbox, through to a fast and efficient checkout process online.
This ultimately means that ecommerce retailers need to prepare a strong and robust omnichannel strategy well in advance of Black Friday if they truly want to capitalise on the opportunity. Setting up specific Black Friday landing pages, refining and reducing the number of steps between product selection and product purchase, and ensuring that the online experiences is as flawless on a mobile device as it is on a main website, are all crucial elements that can make the difference between a customer checking out with you – or ditching their basket and moving onto a competitor.
Without a doubt, the Black Friday revenue opportunities are there and brands have to be in it to win it. But to truly win it, it’s the brands that approach their omnichannel marketing smartly that we predict will come out on top.
Black Friday offers will not be luring a majority of customers to the UK’s high streets this year, with new research showing most will stay at home.
Contact centre and CX tech specialist Genesys has released a study on the annual sales event, which shows that 74 percent of consumers polled say they will not venture to brick and mortar stores for Black Friday events.
Over half (53 percent) of those asked said they never attend Black Friday events, while 30 percent said they were put off by crowds. Twenty-one percent said they used to attend, but have since stopped.
Over a quarter of respondents (27 percent) said online shopping was an easier option. However, where this is seen as more convenient, 85 percent of UK consumers base their purchasing decisions on how well a retailer deals with customer service issues.
The second biggest influence on spending decision for 43 percent of consumers is value for money.
Mark Armstrong, Vice President for UK and Ireland at Genesys, said: “During this heightened shopping season, consumers not only look for the best possible deals, but increasingly base their purchasing decisions on how well businesses respond to issues, such as making returns and requesting technical support. Therefore, it is important that regardless of the sales channel, whether in-store or online, brands provide positive experiences and have the means to effectively communicate with customers to solve queries or complaints.”