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Why British Shoppers Should Adjust Their Black Friday Expectations

27/11/2015 11:33 GMT | Updated 27/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Black Friday in its US form isn't, as yet, a great fit for the UK market. As such, shoppers should probably adjust their expectations this year. Since the shopping event is still a concept in its infancy in the UK, everyone is still finding their feet while it settles on British soil. To prepare you for what to expect on Friday, here are a couple of things to look out for.

You'll probably be at work ...

One of the main differences between Black Friday in the UK and the US is that the Americans have a public holiday. While UK retailers have successfully copied many of the event's features, they haven't yet managed to turn it into a bank holiday.

For the shops, this means missing out on many people who spend their Fridays in an office or work site. For the shoppers, it means that shopping from the office might just be the best way to spend Black Friday. It's true that last year saw plenty of trouble with online deliveries, but retailers have braced themselves and with click-and-collect you won't have to worry about home deliveries at all.

... but you can shop from your desk

Click-and-collect has actually become much more mainstream. If you're worried about delivery delays, shops have made click-and-collect even easier this year. Because retailers know that click-and-collect customers are profitable (they spend £50 more than others, actually, according to CACI research), the smart ones are investing a lot here, so be on the lookout.

Snapping up offers online and picking them up in the store later in December may be the preferred Black Friday choice for consumers. While the British Black Friday will struggle to become the same one-day sales event as in the US, we can still make it a nice starting point for our Christmas shopping. Indeed many retailers are rolling out sales over the weekend and into the following week.

You could find fewer discounts than expected ...

Even though last year's Black Friday saw £1.75bn spent by eager shoppers, profits were less impressive. Big discounts across the board meant that margins were slim - and this year the retailers are out to change that by picking their discounts carefully.

For bargain-hungry shoppers that's bad news. If you're hoping for big price cuts for your entire Christmas shopping this Friday, you may end up disappointed. While very much still there for the taking in most major retail stores, the bargains could well be fewer and further between than last year.

... unless you're up for a shopping challenge

All through the year, CACI measures how happy people are with their shopping trips. On Black Friday last year, we suddenly found that people were much less pleased with their shopping day than usual. When asked if they would recommend the shopping centre they visited to a friend, people were almost a third less likely to say they would than during other peak days.

The explanation is simple. December is full of quieter days to do your Christmas shopping and on Black Friday everyone spends less time than usual buying more products. In 2014, shoppers spent 8 per cent less time per trip and were 10 per cent more likely to make a purchase, compared to an average Christmas shopping trip, according to CACI research.

If you want a nice day out shopping with the family, Black Friday probably isn't the day for you. If you try again the Friday after, however, you might be in luck - CACI research shows that the week after Black Friday is much quieter than normal across British shopping centres. But if you're up for a shopping challenge, the British Black Friday will be right up your street.

And retailers are ready for re-invention

Last year's Black Friday was a success for some, but not everyone. With every passing year, however, shops are given an opportunity to listen to what customers want. Keeping that in mind, there's no doubt that over the next few years the autumnal shopping event will become more streamlined and appealing, constituting the start of the Christmas shopping period, allowing shoppers to reap the benefits with better offers and longer sales.