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Online-only Black Friday could be a washout for independent stores

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Independent watch retailers need to find a way to compete with global ecommerce giants over the Black Friday trading week that this year is expected to see discounting start as early as Monday, November 23.

Trade associations are encouraging people to shop at their local stores, but with all non-essential retail closed until early November, it is vital that independents do not leave the entire Black Friday battlefield open to global ecommerce specialist.

Ecommerce analyst IMRG is forecasting online retail sales growth in the range of 35-45% during the Black Friday peak trading period from November 23 to 30.

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2020 has been a year of huge growth online, as the pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the retail landscape. Ecommerce for the first eight months of the year was up 34.9%.

Given the general situation – with shoppers being actively encouraged to try to bring some of their festive purchasing forward to avoid delivery backlogs too close to Christmas – there is a possibility that shoppers might be more responsive to Black Friday campaigns earlier in the month this year.

IMRG is tracking 320 retail sites to see when their campaigns go live, and this year there has been a trend for them launching earlier – with 4.3% of them being live on 4 November, while for the same day in 2019 only 2.3% were.

“We were anticipating a huge surge online this peak, and circumstances have conspired to ensure that is the case; the stores are closed, furlough has been extended and shoppers are being advised to get the bulk of their Christmas shopping done before December. There is a possibility that could mean people buy spend more in the early weeks of November, pulling some of the volume away from the Black Friday week – that seems the only realistic reason why the online spend for that period could come in lower than +35%,” says Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG.

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