Online retail hits £1.23bn on Black Friday: IMRG

IMRG, supported by SimilarWeb data, estimates that total spend on online retail sites on Black Friday 2016 was £1.23bn, a 12.2 per cent increase on the £1.1bn spent on the same day in 2015 but almost a quarter lower than its original forecast growth of 16 per cent.

Although the number of visitors to online retail sites on Black Friday continued to grow this year, the actual growth in sales revenue was held back by a lower-than-expected increase in the percentage of those visitors converting to buyers.

By contrast, each of the four days leading up to Black Friday (Monday 21 – Thursday 24 November) experienced strong sales growth of between 23.4 per cent and 33.7 per cent, with the increases in conversion rate much higher than that of Black Friday.

For the week as a whole (Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016), an estimated £6.45bn was spent on UK online retail sites (-4.8 per cent below original forecast of £6.77bn) – as longer campaign durations, with new discounting deals promoted each day, served to spread the peak shopper spend over a longer period.

This raises the prospect of a £7bn online spend week for the Black Friday peak period in 2017.

Retailers launched their campaigns across the week – looking at the latest IMRG comScore Retailer Ranking, the number of top 100 retailers offering Black Friday campaigns for each day last week were as follows:
• Monday 21 Nov – 26 (15 launched that day), 25 offering non-Black Friday sale
• Tuesday 22 Nov – 29 (3 launched that day), 27 offering non-Black Friday sale
• Wednesday 23 Nov – 37 (8 launched that day), 24 offering non-Black Friday sale
• Thursday 24 Nov – 44 (7 launched that day), 20 offering non-Black Friday sale
• Friday 25 Nov – 66 (22 launched that day), 10 offering non-Black Friday sale

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG said, “Over the past few years Black Friday has consistently demonstrated a remarkable capacity for shifting in terms of size and scale. In 2014 the volume of orders exceeded forecast by over 30 per cent, in 2015 we had empty shops and this year it seems to have become a genuinely extended period of heightened sales activity – taking place over a week (and more in some cases), which is not entirely dissimilar to the way that Xmas peak used to be online before Black Friday disrupted the established pattern in 2014.”

Nitzan Tamari, VP Marketing at SimilarWeb added, “In terms of traffic on both desktop and mobile to the shopping category in the UK, we are seeing a jump of 52 per cent on black Friday and 81 per cent for the four days leading up to Black Friday compared to 2015. While the overall growth in traffic is consistent with the general year over year growth in the category, it’s interesting that when you compare the traffic on the actual day versus the day before, you see a smaller jump this year. This indicates that retailers are creating enticing offerings earlier and consumers are feeling less pressure to buy on just one day.”