High streets a winner as Black Friday forecasts fall flat

Black Friday failed to deliver the double-digit ‘record-breaker’ that analysts had predicted.

According to figures from retail intelligence specialist Springboard, online purchases climbed 6.7 per cent compared with last year, falling short of the forecast 25 per cent. It was also a big slowdown compared with the 31 per cent rise in 2015.

Footfall grew by two per cent, with high-street growth at 2.8 per cent, which beat retail park and shopping centre growth. Analysts, however, had predicted that footfall would decline by five per cent.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The results from Black Friday itself were very surprising, highlighting the fact that Black Friday is still an evolving shopping day in the UK.”

Rupal Karia, Fujitsu managing director for retail and hospitality, UK and Ireland, said: “This year’s Black Friday was surprising, as online was not only expected to dominate, but blow the high-street out the water – and this evidently was not the case. As we saw, high-street footfall was up 2.8 per cent from last year, which outpaced the five per cent drop that was anticipated. This demonstrates the fact that customers want a balance. Between online and physical shopping experiences, the high street isn’t as obsolete as some might think.

“Instead of simply focusing on what worked last year, namely in-store shopping, this year retailers were prepared for heightened activity across all channels, giving consumers a far better shopping experience. With increased levels of online traffic, we saw less site outages thanks to retailer diligence.

“But with a multitude of channels now available, it is very important that retailers take an integrated approach and deliver a seamless experience for customers, regardless of whether they will be making purchases on a device or in-store. Only by putting consumers at the heart of the business, personalising the shopping experience and simplifying the buying process, can retailers hope to win the battle for consumers’ hearts – whether that’s in-store or online.”