Black Friday no silver bullet for retailers as November records below average growth

November Index up +11.5 per cent year-on-year

UK online retail sales were up +11.5 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in November, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Though Black Friday itself achieved a slightly higher growth of 11.7 per cent YoY, this overall monthly figure was notably below the November growth average for the past four years (+18.3 per cent), and is in line with the generally lower rate of growth recorded throughout 2017. Indeed, November’s overall YoY growth was also lower than the 12.7 per cent average of the last 3 months (Sep-Nov). 

Looking specifically at Black Friday performance, it was evident that it was the medium-sized retailers (those whose websites generate between £10-100 million a year) who tended to secure the highest share of sales growth overall, while the results from the large retailers (those whose websites generate over £100 million a year) were more mixed.

With retailers ever conscious of edging out their competition, monitoring of discount levels across 210 websites in November revealed that they were widely available throughout the whole of November – not just during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period – and this is likely to have impacted on overall revenue growth. This implies less of a focus on pricing strategy for a particular day and more on extending the discount purchase window order to spur growth.

Despite the extended discount windows, many sectors saw a decrease in YoY growth over the month. In particular, having experienced its first YoY growth in 6 months in October, Electricals suffered a -0.9 per cent YoY fall. While week 4 of November – Black Friday week – was up +22 per cent, the rest of the month performed extremely poorly. Week 1 began at -17 per cent YoY, week 2 at -3 per cent, and worst of all was week 5 at -30 per cent YoY growth. This compares to YoY growth of almost 24 per cent in November 2013.

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