Black Friday – bane or benefit?


Fiona Strong, Managing Director at Ark-H Handling, explores how Black Friday can be both a blessing and a curse for retailers and fulfilment houses.

Introduced from the USA several years ago, the Black Friday phenomenon, like so many American imports, has had positive and negative effects on the UK market in almost equal measure.

Initially the new concept in sales promotion led to a massive rise in on-line sales, as internet retailers rushed to capitalise on this frenzy of armchair bargain-hunting.  Sales spiked, web-sites crashed and the shopping world went Black Friday mad. The high-street trembled as the statistics for year-on-year on-line shopping sales shot through the roof and the world of fulfilment and distribution was caught on the hop.

As time has gone by the Black Friday effect has begun to diminish somewhat, although this is still the busiest period for sales, both on-line and on the high street. Designed to ‘kick-off’ the holiday season (Thanksgiving) in the US, Black Friday has, to a marked extent, become the starting pistol for pre-Christmas sales in the UK.

Mainstream retail has caught up with on-line, with stores building television campaigns designed to capture both on-line and footfall sales. Shoppers looking for bargains still flock to find the best deals, in the ether or on the pavement, but the one-day pressure has eased.  Many retailers have sought to up-stage the Black Friday event with earlier offer days with Amazon Prime day being a ‘prime’ example.

The on-line shopping bonanza continues to grow and flourish and it is now expected that sales will rise and rise. It is the rush to discount that has slowed slightly, with retailers of all descriptions recognising that this is more of a rush to bottom than a race to the top. The benefits to consumers remain and special deals abound but no longer in the staggering proportions of a few years ago.

On-line fulfilment services too have adjusted to meet demand and it is no longer so difficult for companies to fulfil the peak in demand. Gone are the days when neither websites nor warehouses could cope with the Black Friday effect.

Predictions for 2018 suggest that the average Brit will spend about £220 on Black Friday. This is significantly less than last year but it is also predicted that many more people will take part. So the overall spend on the Black Friday weekend will still probably top out at over 7 billion pounds.

The Black Friday phenomenon is both a blessing and a curse for retailers and fulfilment houses alike but, given the need for them to keep the customers satisfied and sales rising now that everyone has got the hang of the idea, on aggregate they are probably better off with it than without it.

Ark-H Handling has over 28 years of proven expertise in delivering a comprehensive range of handling & fulfilment solutions. They provide unparalleled levels of service and expertise delivered through industry leading systems & facilities, combined with outstanding staff and a commitment to quality.