Black Friday was, for a long time, a purely American tradition shunned by UK retailers and consumers alike. However, with the advent of online shopping came the need for shopping centres and high streets nationwide to up their game in the run up to Christmas, with the four day period now one of the most hotly anticipated events on the retail calendar.
Shopping centre owner Intu believes that the forthcoming Black Friday (28 November) weekend could well be its most profitable to date, with a programme of festive promotions in the pipeline to encourage consumers through the doors of its centres.
This Black Friday will coincide with the launch of Intu’s “Love Christmas even more” national marketing campaign, allowing consumers to remain abreast of special offers, promotional activity and great discounts available in its prime UK shopping destinations.
Along with showcasing a huge range of discounted goods from retail tenants, Intu will play host to experiential events designed to create a buzz and give consumers struggling to find the perfect gift some ideas. Amongst these will be the launch of the Sony Xperia Z3 campaign, a demonstration of Microsoft’s new Xbox One and an instalment by Sky offering personalised Christmas messages across social media platforms.
Commercial and digital director at Intu, Trevor Pereira, believes both consumers and retailers will benefit from the campaign over the festive season.
He says; “Because of our national coverage, deep understanding of consumer shopping habits and to support our retailers, we have created a Black Friday survival guide to guide families through the weekend.
“It is designed to ensure customers are properly prepared so they make the most of the offers available, and means our retailers will benefit fully.
“Intu has some of the UK’s best shopping centres in the strongest locations, which means we’re anticipating a busy weekend – we’re focused on attracting footfall for our retailers so their businesses can flourish while providing every customer with a great Black Friday shopping experience.”
However, while Black Friday is certainly a good opportunity to draw in consumers, the question is whether early promotional activity so far in advance of Christmas will prove profitable for retailers in the long run.
Although industry experts including the New West End Company have forecast a huge £220 million spend in the West End of London alone over the four day weekend, last year saw retailers such as Debenhams and Mothercare suffer in terms of profit margins thanks to a wave of discounts being unleashed before the traditional Boxing Day Sales launch.
Unfortunately, retailers may have no choice but to discount stock slightly earlier than usual this year, as the mild autumn weather so far has seen sales slump at many major fashion stores. Traditionally, sales of items such as coats, boots and scarves would have acted as an encouraging prelude of the Christmas trading season by now, but this is yet to materialise.
While retailers may doubt the strength of sales this Christmas, one thing is certain – this Black Friday is set to be the biggest in UK history.