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Black Friday boost as retailers braced for huge online sales growth of 35%-45%

Tom Bottomley
09 November 2020

Retailers are gearing up for a huge increase in online sales of 35%-45% during the Black Friday trading period (23-30 November), according to the latest forecast from online retail association IMRG.

With shoppers being actively encouraged to bring their festive purchasing forward to avoid delivery backlogs too close to Christmas, there is also a big possibility that shoppers will be more responsive to Black Friday campaigns earlier in the month this year.

Tracking 320 retail sites to see when Black Friday campaigns go live, IMRG points out there’s already a trend for them launching earlier – with 4.3% live on 4 November, while only 2.3% were live on the same day in 2019.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG said: “We were anticipating a huge surge online during this peak, and circumstances have conspired to ensure that is going to be the case, as stores are closed, furlough has been extended and shoppers are being advised to get the bulk of their Christmas shopping done before December.

“There is a possibility that could mean people spend more in the early weeks of November, pulling some of the volume away from the Black Friday week. That would be the only realistic reason why the online spend for that period could come in lower than +35%.”

Justin Opie, Managing Director at IMRG, added: “This year’s huge growth rates, and the expected online bonanza the Black Friday period will deliver, underline retail’s rapid structural shift online. This does not feel like a temporary development, as further evidence is no longer required that this is a permanent shift.

“Retailers, including those with stores, with strong online propositions, will continue to trade well. Those without, for whom it’s not already too late, must adapt now if they are to survive.”

2020 has been a year of huge growth online, as the pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the retail landscape. Growth for the year so far (January – October, 2020) is up +34.9%, whereas for 2019 as a whole it was just +6.7%.

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