Black Friday Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday prompted a spike in online luxury purchases as major multi-brands from Net-a-Porter to LVMH’s 24S ran discounts, and retailers may see another surge in sales as lockdown restrictions in Europe ease and stores reopen.
Boston Consulting Group says the weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will likely account for 20 to 25 per cent of total online holiday revenue for many retailers. Adobe expects Cyber Monday to become the largest online sales day in history, with between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion to be spent online in the US alone. It didn’t break out fashion. Shopify, which represents more than one million businesses in 175 countries, said Black Friday sales climbed 75 per cent to $2.4 billion, led by clothing and accessories. New York, London, Los Angeles were the top-selling cities. In the UK, PwC expected Black Friday sales to decrease 20 per cent year-on-year to £6.2 billion, while France is holding off until next week and the rest of Europe showed “more interest” due to the relative newness of the shopping holiday.
Total revenue from online Sales in the USA, accross the Holiday Season, according to Adobe Analytics.
Top luxury brands generally avoid direct participation in mass discounting events, but 24 Sèvres, the online counterpart to LVMH’s multi-brand Parisian boutique Le Bon Marché, was offering 20 per cent off with other multi-brand retailers. Farfetch offered up to 50 per cent off, with an additional 20 per cent off for Black Friday, with brands including Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and Off-White among those discounted. Net-a-Porter followed suit with up to 50 per cent off and free shipping.
Loungewear was a winner, according to Shopify. Sales peaked at 12pm EST, when more than 102 million sales took place, an 84 per cent growth from 2019. The average cart price was $88.60, and four of the six most popular products sold were loungewear items like leggings, sweaters and dressing gowns. On Lyst, 16,000 people added Ugg slippers to their wishlist.
“You can’t get out of Black Friday,” says PwC retail director and research lead Kien Tan. “Fashion is one of the categories with greater interest in the UK, second only to electronics, with 44 per cent of consumers under 25 years old and 54 per cent of 25-44 year olds looking forward to buying on Black Friday. It would be a brave decision for larger brands to avoid discounts.”
In a sample of 206 retailers surveyed by PwC, 91 per cent ran Black Friday promotions compared to 88 per cent in 2019. Of the fashion retailers in that group, from budget to luxury, 92 per cent participated in Black Friday, while 100 per cent of the online-only retailers did, including fast fashion giants Boohoo and Asos.
According to Tan, fashion was the only retail category not to recover to pre-pandemic sales levels in the period between national lockdowns. In the UK, he says the second lockdown — which is due to end this week — has dampened consumer confidence, making fashion less likely to drive Black Friday sales this year.
“The number of Black Friday transactions is down compared to last year, but transactions are still up considerably compared to the rest of lockdown,” in the UK says CEO of Barclaycard Payments Rob Cameron. “The real focus now will be on Wednesday 2 December — the end of the national lockdown in England — when we predict that shoppers heading back to the high street will bring about a ‘Black Wednesday’, with transactions likely surpassing what we saw on Black Friday.”
A delayed spike is also expected in France, where Amazon and other major retailers agreed to postpone Black Friday by a week, delaying discounts until Friday 4 December, three days after the national lockdown ends. This comes after local businesses campaigned to reopen their physical stores before the discounting event, to compete with online giants.
More modest discounts
Discounting was largely more modest but longer this year, even starting in October, according to a Bank of America analysis. At Macy’s, full-price handbags across brands were discounted by 25 per cent compared to 40-50 per cent off in 2019. Coach offered 30 per cent off select styles (with a smaller selection up to 50 per cent off), compared to up to 50 per cent off in-stores last year. Michael Kors stuck to discounts of 25 per cent off. Still, there were some extreme discounting examples across fast fashion, such as British-owned PrettyLittleThing, where 99 per cent price cuts saw items as cheap as 4 pence.
Global shopping search platform Lyst recorded its biggest November to date, with triple-digit growth year-on-year. “This increase is not about sales but reflects the huge step-change in e-commerce catalysed by the pandemic. Many brands are actually placing less of an emphasis on discounting, but shoppers are still coming online in record numbers to treat themselves or others after a tough year,” says chief partnership officer Jenny Cossons.
Support for small businesses
Over the last few years, a growing wave of sustainably minded brands have announced boycotts of Black Fridays, temporarily shutting their doors or offering repair services instead. This year, there were new calls for people to support Black-owned businesses — under the #BlackBusinessFriday campaign — and independent businesses — under #SmallBusinessSaturday, taking place the day after Black Friday. According to Adobe Analytics, smaller retailers saw early success, with sales 545 per cent higher on Black Friday than an average day in October. On Small Business Saturday, consumers spent $4.7 billion online, a 30.2 per cent increase year-on-year.
But small retailers still struggle to match the steep discounts offered by online giants keen to clear inventory. “While we have witnessed an increase in consumers wanting to do good during holiday shopping and more focus on sustainability, Black-owned businesses and local retailers, it is typically tough for independent and smaller retailers to compete with the deep discounts that larger retailers offer,” says Sarah Willersdorf, global head of luxury at Boston Consulting Group.