Why is Black Friday footfall in decline?
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Black Friday may have grown in recognition over the last decade, however, recent trends show that footfall in Britain during Black Friday has fallen year-on-year. Early data from indicated that Black Friday footfall was down 8% over the Black Friday weekend.
According to Barclaycard, online transactions were up. Despite , the amount spent per transaction online failing, Black Friday is clearly no longer an event that necessarily helps bricks and mortar stores. According to marketing and insights director at Springboard, Diane Wehrle, “while online transactions are up, the vast majority of spending is still in shops, so this indicates there was a fall in spending”.
It seems that Black Friday campaigns have managed to engage customers and that trends are moving away from stores, with customers preferring to shop online and avoid the shopping centre mayhem. In the past, customers have been known to queue from early hours of the morning in order to grab the best deals. However, due to the large criticism received it seems as though the UK has distanced itself from the US version …
The growth of online
The largest contributing factor to this year’s footfall was online sales. Many consumers opted to shop online, rather than queue in stores to snap up a bargain. Trust in online shopping continues to grow, making online shopping a more convenient method for customers. In addition, many online retailers began their Black Friday sales earlier, with some sales lasting till the end of the month, making customer less inclined to visit in store.
With the use of mobile phone on the rise, a large number of customers snapped up deals using their mobile phone. According to Argos, half of its orders on Friday morning had been made on a handset, up from 40% last year.
Black Friday no longer the main sale event
Furthermore, there are also indications that shoppers are growing accustomed to continuous sales and discounts throughout the year. This, paired with the ubiquitous argument around whether Black Friday discounts are better than the rest of the sales throughout the year. According to studies, 9 out of 10 Black Friday products are cheaper at other times of the year. The study showed that out of 21,047 products, in a course of 12 months, only laptops were offered at a favourable bargain price.
Payday far away
Another contributing factor is that customers have less disposable income. Despite the already doubtful nature of Black Friday discounts, Black Friday took place a week earlier this year and most shoppers only get paid the week after. Therefore, we’ve seen many ‘low value’ sales this Black Friday, with many shoppers opting to ‘treat’ themselves instead.
Avoiding the mayhem
Another contributing reason is the controversial nature of Black Friday. Previously there have been known reports of shoplifting, fighting, and even deaths (such as the two men who shot each other after a fight broke out in a Texas Toys-R-Us). Whilst most of these stories originate from the US, in the UK, consumers have had no problem adopting the US attitude to Black Friday. A clip-on YouTube from 2008 shows people trampling over other customers in Asda (a subsidiary of Walmart) as security open the shop doors and were overwhelmed by the sudden rush of people pouring in. There have been efforts to deal with this problem, with stores increasing their opening times and even stretching the sales over several days, weeks and sometimes a month in efforts to deal with the chaos. However, it seems as though shoppers remain reluctant to shop in stores, preferring to avoid the madness and shop from the comfort of their homes
To give you a better idea of some of the insane Black Friday incidents, we’ve created a list of the top 5 Black Friday disasters, ranging from controversial marketing campaigns to shopping mayhem.
- Super-Flop – Online store “SuperGurl” in Singapore created a particularly distasteful ad campaign showing a young woman in a suggestive pose with the phrase “rape us now”. The advert was heavily criticized on social media with many stating that rape should never be used as a synonym for ‘shop now’, especially when their audience is young women and teens.
- Asda shambolic PR disaster – In Northern Ireland Asda (a subsidiary of Walmart) attempted to replicate the US Black Friday shopping spree frenzy. The campaign was highly advertised and even backed by a PR push on BBC radio, advertising heavily discounted goods that would be on sale at their stores. The campaign proved successful with queues gathering outside stores across the country, in the early hours of Friday morning. However when stores opened it became clear that there were limited numbers of goods on offer, and in some stores, at least some goods advertised were not available at all. In frustration, the large crowds turned into chaos with one woman reportedly suffering a broken arm in the mayhem.
- Pepper Spray Tactic – In 2011 at Porter Ranch Walmart in California, an unknown woman used pepper spray to prevent other customers from shopping. Reports say that there were over 100 people waiting in line, pushing and shoving before they realised they were attacked with pepper spray. Customers coughed and itched as the woman continued with what was dubbed as ‘competitive shopping’.
- Shopping Stampede – In 2008 at a Walmart in Long Island was overwhelmed with 2,000 customers storming in at 5 am, 5 minutes before the store was due to open. The store never in fact opened. It was said, that customers stormed into the store, knocking the doors off their hinges and literally blasted their way in. In the midst of the chaos, a 34-year-old temporary worker fell and was trampled to death!
- Black Friday Crash! – In 2017, both GAME and Debenhams, some of the two biggest UK high street retailers experienced website crashes due to the large traffic of people who were looking to grab a bargain, in the Black Friday sales. Whilst Debenhams acted promptly placing customers in a 30-second queue in order to deal with the traffic, customers who visited GAME were greeted with a