Online retailers prepare for ‘biggest Black Friday’ as stores stay shut

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

Online retailers have said they expect their “biggest Black Friday yet” as their bricks and mortar rivals miss out on sales through the enforced closure of stores.

Retail analysts have warned that total sales on Black Friday could be lower than previous years as a result of the second national lockdown in England.

Non-essential retailers were temporarily closed at the start of the month but will reopen their doors from December 3 across England.

As a result, online Black Friday sales are expected to surge following a year of strong growth for online sale.

Research by e-commerce platform EKM has projected that online Black Friday sales will be 53% higher this year.

Online marketplace eBay has said it expects a surge of sales as people continue to complete their Christmas shopping early.

Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay UK, said: “This year, the country will experience its biggest Black Friday yet with people across the UK gearing up to take advantage of the incredible deals eBay has on offer to save on Christmas shopping and shop ahead where they can.

“We predict online baskets will be filled with items such as gym equipment, toys and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy as we stay home more and put an increased focus on keeping our minds and bodies healthy.”

Pippa Wicks, executive director at John Lewis, said it will “undoubtedly be a Black Friday like no other”, with 39 of its 42 shops closed as a result of lockdown measures.

She said: “We are offering hundreds of Black Friday deals at John Lewis and are also continuously monitoring the prices of our high street competitors as part of our commitment to being never knowingly undersold.

“This means that our customers can be sure we offer the best value on the high street throughout the Black Friday period and in the run-up to Christmas.”

However, analysts at EY said that early Christmas shopping and restrictions have impacted the importance of the sales event.

Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland retail partner, said: “Once a big event for the retail industry, the reality is that Black Friday’s significance has diminished.

“This year, retailers have brought offers forward due to the national restrictions put in place earlier this month so it’s unlikely there will be significant new discounts this week.

“Now, retailers need to look beyond festive deals in order to aim for recovery and a positive start to 2021.

“What would have been a 10-year transition from physical to online sales has happened in less than a year, and retailers need to understand and adapt to likely permanent shifts in consumer behaviour.”