Nov 30, 2020
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England's retailers await three-week shopping frenzy ​after first fully-digital Black Friday

Nov 30, 2020

The end of England’s second lockdown can’t come quick enough for store retailers. As they brace themselves for a festive shopping frenzy compressed into a three-week pre-Christmas window, they’re already having to play serious catch-up.

England stores expect three-week pre-Christmas shopping frenzy - DR

The first fully-digital Black Friday is expected to have seen online sales over three days hit £5.75 billion -- up 53% on last year. 

John Lewis alone reported e-commerce sales leaping 35% and international e-commerce sales up 15%, according to eShopWorld. eBay sold two items a second and the Argos website recorded 113 visits per second.

But all is not lost for physical stores. More than twice as many shoppers are expected to head out to England's high streets between 2 December and Christmas due to pent-up demand from the second lockdown, predicts ShopperTrak/Sensormatic.

Physical shopping will also be boosted by fears online fulfilment networks and warehouses will become overwhelmed, causing delays to deliveries and risking gifts not arriving in time, the report added.

So with stores closed, it was no surprise its latest data reveals UK footfall was dramatically down 77% on the first fully-digital Black Friday.

Data released by ShopperTrak’s footfall index, which captures 40 billion shopper visits each year, revealed that UK footfall on the high street also continued to fall away over the weekend, down 78.8% on Saturday and  down 79.1% on Sunday.
In England, the national lockdown saw footfall fall to -98% year-on-year as stores remained closed. Even shopper traffic in Wales where stores were open struggled to reach that of 2019, down 40% on Black Friday, despite the country coming out of its Fire Break lockdown two weeks ago.

Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic’s retail consultant for EMEA, said: “Black Friday’s footfall wipe-out won’t come as a surprise, as England remains in the grip of a second national lockdown and shops remain closed. The real test for retailers comes as its non-essential stores reopen next week.

“Pent-up demand combined with a compressed Christmas shopping period will drive customers into store,” Sumpter continued.

“More than ever before, the shopping public will rely on bricks-and-mortar retail to save the day for their last-minute shopping needs. The challenge of managing a condensed three-week festive shopping window, while keeping shoppers and colleagues safe, will be hard work, and may require some fun and festive spirit from all involved”.

But concerns remain for physical shoppers. Sensormatic’s research shows biggest worries are other shoppers not respecting social distancing for 47% of UK consumers, followed by long queues caused by social distancing (43%), product availability (21%) and store cleanliness (17%).

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