So the first full working week of the year brings info on UK retail sales for the all important Christmas period and for the first time we’ll see the impact of the American import which is Black Friday in the figures.
I was lucky enough to be in New York on Black Friday so saw part of what happens Stateside for myself and have to say that in comparison to the stories I heard of stampedes in my local supermarkets, Black Friday in Manhattan was a pretty sedate affair. I do realise that Manhattan is a different retail environment to the rest of the US but I was really surprised at the lack of queues when jetlag had me headed off to Fifth Avenue at 6.30am that morning.
The John Lewis Partnership have been the first to put their head above the parapet and reported strong 4.8% growth in the five weeks to 27th December and interestingly enough they also reported that the traditional big weekend for retail had shifted back from the last weekend before Christmas to that Black Friday/Cyber Monday combo with Click and Collect being the most popular delivery method (I LOVE Click & Collect as it might mean that I have to go to my chosen store to pick something up but it will always be at a time of my choosing which most definitely beats having to schedule when to pick a parcel up at the local Post Office).
Technology and electrical items tend to be the focus of Black Friday shoppers both here and in the US which would explain the lack of frenzy in the shops I was frequenting, probably as the big ticket items are seen as the best bargains. Interestingly enough though, Next plc, which didn’t bother with Black Friday has reported a solid set of numbers for the trading period from 28/10 to 24/12 with 2.9% growth.
So, do we need Black Friday in the UK or not?
Two of our leading retailers have taken different paths, with both producing cracking results so my question is, should our retailers be painting it Black this side of the pond this coming November?