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Black Friday – how this US import is redefining the retail sector

Currencies Direct November 29th 2019 - 3 minute read

In the few short years since Black Friday was introduced in the UK it has become a phenomenon, signifying the start of a month-long spending frenzy which can make or break many retailers.

While traditionally through of as the domain of the big retailers who have the deep pockets to offer their customers the most enticing discounts, Black Friday is no longer defined by just the high street.

With Black Friday taking on a life of its own, SME retailers are increasingly embracing the sales holiday and seeking to capitalise on the opportunities it offers.

How has Black Friday altered shopping habits?

Since Black Friday landed in the UK we’ve seen a marked change in consumer spending habits, most notably in how in how important November has become on the sales calendar.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports retail sales in November eclipsed December in both 2017 and 2018, a trend which is likely to persist in 2019.

Expectations for sharp discounts on Black Friday also means that consumers are growing more reluctant to purchase items at full price ahead of the Christmas season, holding out instead in hopes of snapping up a bargain.

An all-consuming juggernaut

Black Friday has been long associated with consumer electronics, with sales on big ticket items like TVs and games consoles often being the main draw for customers.

However, over the years Black Friday has become a key sales event for various other retailers looking to kick-start the Christmas sales period. In fact, at Currencies Direct we find that SME customers from a range of sectors start preparing for Black Friday at the start of the year.

The fashion sector, for instance, has wholeheartedly embraced Black Friday, particularly online, with clothing retailers like ASOS expected to go all out this year.

Even the food service industry is getting in on the action, with many restaurants starting to offer special Black Friday deals in order to entice the hordes of hungry shoppers swarming the high street on the last Friday of November.

Furthermore, we’ve seen Black Friday morph from a single day of sales into what is now often a week-long or even month long event, with retailers of all sizes offering various discounts in the run up to the day itself.

Moving beyond the high-street

While the high-street remains a key staging post for retailers, analysts predict the battle for Black Friday will increasingly be fought online and on mobile in 2019 as customers seek to avoid the long queues often associated with the event.  

Online sales have grown year-on-year and 2019 is looking no different. SMEs will need to ensure they have a strong digital presence if they want to compete – doubly so when it comes to Black Friday’s younger cousin Cyber Monday.

The international appeal

In recent years Black Friday has spread its tendrils into Europe, with retailers in France, Germany and other nations all jumping on the band wagon.

Denmark in particular has embraced Black Friday with gusto. The number of Danish retailers participating in the event has jumped by over 200% in the last five years.

Capitalising on Black Friday as an SME

As Black Friday expands beyond the high street and becomes less focused on high-ticket items, SMEs stand to benefit the most.

SMEs should look to focus their energy online, where the power of tech can help to make up for more limited staffing, whilst also allowing for better engagement with consumers.

SME’s can also be more agile than their larger counterparts, reacting quickly to trends and competitor’s prices without being burdened by massive advertising campaigns which allow for little wiggle room.

As the discounts by the big retailers grow increasingly homogenised, SMEs can also stand out by offering discounts on more unique products.

With Black Friday becoming the focal point of the sales seasons it’s time for SMEs to stand up and be counted. Is your business prepared for 29th November?


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Currencies Direct

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