The now annual Black Friday event has become a manic time for retailers across the country and here, Sussex Business Times gives you a rundown of the facts and figures from this year’s event

The term “Black Friday” became such a thing back in the 1960s as a way of marking the kick off of the Christmas Shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black”, back when accounting records were kept by hand and red ink indicated a loss, while black indicated a profit. Although Black Friday is an originally American event, the UK has welcomed it with open arms, and this year, we’ve seen even more of an evolution, causing it to be the key trading period in the UK retail calendar. In previous years, Black Friday has been somewhat of a sham, causing complete chaos for many stores and outlets. However, it seems both retailers and manufacturers had learnt from previous years and this year used this knowledge to implement what has been a much more orderly event; there were very few examples of websites crashing and stores in general saw a controlled shopping day.

But what we really want to know as a business society, are the facts and figures of this year’s event…

Research conducted by GfK that price changes this year were not even nearly as extreme as they were during last year’s Black Friday event; from their Online Pricing Intelligence, they counted 71,000 price changes on Black Friday 2015 in comparison to the previous day, whereas this year saw just 16,000 on Black Friday versus Thursday, which shows that retailers were already using sales promotions previous to the big day. Additionally, during the week of Black Friday, the total market grew by 6% overall in value – fuelled by online sales increasing by 21%, causing an overwhelming 48% of the total sales now going through the internet. GfK’s research also shows that the highest growth areas came from technology products, with one of this year’s best performers being smart audio products, with one of the most popular products being the multiroom speakers. This area in particular grew 182% year on year in value, while another area of strong growth included large screen TVs (60 inches or above), which recorded a 135% increase.

The homewares market performed quite differently to the electrical markets during this year’s Black Friday event, with a 2.1% decline in value in comparison to last year. Despite this, there were certain areas of growth; candles were up just under 13% and furniture up almost 4%. The week itself was significantly busier than the week prior to Black Friday, causing 22.7% value growth week on week, with almost 40% of this growth coming through internet sales. Additionally, in other areas, dental care recorded a 33% increase this year, handstick vacuums were up 40% and wearables 60%

Head of Retail at GfK, Michael McLaughlin concludes: “Black Friday week has again recorded growth, although less in percentage terms than previous years. Online has taken a further slice of pie, and based on this, could realistically be well over half the market next year. As always, questions now turn into how retail will perform over the Christmas period, and with the added complexity of Brexit and declining consumer confidence as we reported earlier this week, it will certainly be an interesting time ahead.”

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