September 9, 2021

Hospitality gift card platform reports 42%  increase in like-for-like Black Friday sales despite pandemic

Hospitality gift card platform Toggle has reported a ‘mixed’ Black Friday performance, with its overall like-for-like sales increasing by 42 per cent compared to last year despite pandemic. 

Online dominated and saw a 117% increase on last year’s digital sales, offsetting the capitulation of in-venue sales which dropped by 97%. 

The data also reveals that people aged between 21 and 30 made up the biggest proportion of gift card sales (35%). This is a leap from 21% in 2019, where people aged between 31 and 40 made up the greatest percentage of sales. 

Black Friday is fast overtaking Boxing Day as the UK’s biggest annual discount frenzy. Consumers spent a record-breaking £2 million-a-minute during this year’s event, however 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. And whilst Black Friday has become a mainstay event in the UK’s trading calendar, it has only been adopted by the hospitality industry relatively recently. 

Bullish Black Friday offers have proved fruitful for a number of businesses on the Toggle platform - including a premium restaurant and cocktail bar operator selling £25,000 worth of gift cards over the weekend with a 20% off offer. 

Black Friday also confirmed that operators should think beyond gift cards. A national restaurant operator enjoyed a 95% uplift in like-for-like Black Friday sales this year thanks to a bundle offer. A dinner for two with a  free bottle of wine can be more lucrative than just selling gift cards. It’s more tangible and the increased perception of value can lift the average transaction value. 

The event also confirmed that, even for those choosing not to discount, it is still well worth creating a compelling webstore offering gift cards, at-home experiences, retail products and cook-at-home kits.  An independent restaurant in Sheffield rode the Black Friday wave without discounting this year, seeing a 625% increase in like-for-like sales compared to last year.

Toggle is an intuitive gift card platform which integrates with a dozen different hospitality platforms and EPOS providers - creating a transactional website for businesses to easily sell gift cards, products and experiences directly to customers. It is free for the first £1,000 worth of sales and operators can be up-and-running within a few hours. 

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.”

Hundreds of pubs, bars and restaurants are now live on Toggle, including: YO! Sushi, Revolution Bars, Franco Manca, Leon, Gusto, Tonkotsu, JW Lees, Yummy Pubs, Boston Tea Party, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte, Turtle Bay, Rudy’s, San Carlo, Bob Bob Ricard, Park Chinois, Revolución de Cuba, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Ego Restaurants & Rosa's Thai Café.