Black Friday: the good, the bad and the ugly

Black Friday spending was primed to reach the billions this year, but is this US phenomenon starting to lacklustre here in the UK?

Despite instore offers as bountiful as their online counterparts, online retailers were the big winners this Black Friday as shoppers turned their backs on the high street.

Figures by Springboard showed that while the number of online transactions in the week before the event was up 11.3%, high street footfall dropped 4.2% on the previous Black Friday. However, Saturday footfall fell just 0.9% as shoppers took advantage of click and collect services at retail parks.

Shoppers have wised up to the fact that each year Black Friday discount days seem to extend ever further. This year was no exception with two or even three weeks of continual online promotions, weakening the position of the high street.

But this trend towards digital spending has also potentially reduced the madness. The fighting that hit the headlines in 2014 was certainly less widespread this year.

Has retailer appetite for the event also waned?

Sale Cycle analysed the Internet Retailer UK list and found that 91% took part in Black Friday this year.

While retailers, like IKEA, publically turned their backs on the cut-price chaos, others, such as Next, had a change of heart and participated for the first time. And there were retailers, such as Marks and Spencer, that opted to do something else instead, offering discounts but in another guise.

Black Friday 2018

While we anticipate the Black Friday event is not going away from the retail calendar, we expect spending to be less about essentials and more focused on high value and infrequent purchases – those purchases that shoppers need a good reason to buy.

But the biggest Black Friday question facing many retailers next year will be whether to participate or not.

Here are our 2018 rules of engagement:


  • For competitive advantage, start earlier
  • Ensure your offers are genuine – match the hype by making them your biggest offers of the year
  • Make offers simple and uncomplicated
  • Plan your digital strategy carefully, taking advantage of prime days and times
  • Be authentic – don’t mislead

Not participate

  • Do something else – added value events or gift cards for spending at a later date
  • Take a stand – communicate the reason for nonparticipation
  • Focus on your brand values – if year-round low pricing is your mission, make it known

For more trends and research visit our reports, including a shopper insight special on Black Friday