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Online retailers rely on Black Friday to meet sales, data finds

Chloe Burney
21 November 2023

UK retailers have been advertising Black Friday deals earlier than ever this year and are increasingly reliant on the promotional period, according to IMRG's Online Retail Index.

The company tracks campaign start dates, daily revenue performance and additional unique performance indicators. This year, it found that 48 out of 295 retailers surveyed went live three weeks out from Black Friday week. This number had steadily grown to over 114 just one week out, revealing participation and competition is high.

However, IMRG found that these early campaigns haven't necessarily paid off. The Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers across the UK, has revealed an industry year-on-year decline. Nearly 50% of 80 retailers polled on 16 November said their results that week so far were ‘below expectation.’

Market performance in the first week of November was flat (+0.5%) and week two was down by 6.2% year-on-year, putting pressure on retailers to meet their targets this Black Friday week.

These insights are in line with IMRG’s Black Friday Week expectations. It expects the total market to be down by 2% on average, based on research into online revenue performance in recent times and external factors such as the cost-of-living crisis.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, said: “The signs so far in November have not been very positive, and it means there is a lot of ground to be made up if it is to be a successful trading month for retailers.

"That’s not to say it couldn’t happen; it may be that shoppers are going to concentrate their spending more fully on this week in 2023, and there will likely be some big deals available if demand is slow and they find themselves a bit overstocked. Many will be hoping that the upturn in demand arrives very soon.”

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