Black Friday is fast overtaking Boxing Day as the UK’s biggest annual discount frenzy, with consumers spending a record-breaking £2 million-a-minute during this year’s event. Shoppers were expected to spend £2billion more in 2020 than last year’s Black Friday. However, with the Covid-19 restrictions keeping shoppers at home and businesses shuttered, it’s been widely reported that the online sales surge hasn’t been enough to make up for the loss of in-store and venue traffic.
According to reports:
Whilst Black Friday has become a mainstay event in the UK’s trading calendar, it has only been adopted by hospitality relatively recently. The industry is in a torrid state with the pandemic restrictions biting and revenue streams severely hampered. Pre-sold revenue through gift cards sales and at-home experiences are amongst the few ways operators have been able to generate much-needed cash whilst doors have been closed - alongside pivoting to takeaways and selling retail products directly to customers.
We launched Toggle in October 2018, so last year was our first proper foray into Black Friday. It’s provided a robust foundation to identify shifts in year-on-year trends and an indication for how December sales are likely to unfold:
Here are some quick stats for online sales during this year’s Black Friday:
People still love Black Friday.
Despite the pandemic forcing the high street to close its doors over Black Friday weekend, we experienced a 42% uplift in sales compared to the same period last year.
As expected, online dominated and saw a 117% increase on last year’s digital sales, offsetting the capitulation of in-venue sales, which dropped by 97%.
Gift cards continue to appeal to a broad age range.
The weekend’s biggest spenders span across a large age range, with those aged 21-30 making up the biggest proportion of sales (35%) in 2020. This is a leap from 21% in 2019, where people aged between 31 and 40 made up the greatest percentage of sales. Spend continues to drop off substantially amongst those aged 65+ years old. The demographic data also reveals a continuation of women being the main driver of gift card purchases during Black Friday.
It’s clear that customers are happy to pre-buy credit with you for a discount. The interesting point here is that around a fifth of gift cards expire after 12 months. Our feeling is that customers actually buy for themselves so it might be that the ‘breakage’ (when card value expires) is less than 20%. Only time will tell. It is also worth flagging that 18% of gift card recipients will become regular customers, with their first visit heightened by the fact that it is already paid for.
Here are our key learnings from this year’s Black Friday event:
Dan Brookman, CEO of Toggle, said: “The sector uncertainty has definitely affected sales. I believe the public are quite worn down at this point and the constant battering hospitality is taking is having an effect. What’s encouraging as we go into Christmas is the news of the vaccine which will help fuel consumer confidence in gifting their favourite brands, safer in the knowledge that they should be reopening fully in the spring.
“Black Friday has a long way to evolve for the sector. Brands are quite rightly fearful of discounting - however, Black Friday can stimulate brand growth with retail and experiences with added value activity. There’s no getting away from the fact that customers are looking to spend.”