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Why Black Friday Is No Longer a One-Day Event in the UK

The figures are in from this year's Black Friday and the conclusion is clear: Black Friday is no longer a one-day sales event in the UK.

The figures are in from this year's Black Friday and the conclusion is clear: Black Friday is no longer a one-day sales event in the UK.

Retailers and shoppers alike have adapted the US concept to a British setting and three consequences are so far evident: Black Friday is a week, not a day. Black Friday is a joint online-offline event. And as retailers adapt, Black Friday shoppers are getting smarter.

Black Friday is a week, not a day

Shops on Oxford Street last Friday weren't promoting Black Friday; they promoted the Black Friday Weekend. And retailers across the UK mostly had a quiet day on Friday in preparation for the days to come. While many commentators quickly judged this merely to mean that Black Friday shoppers had moved online, the stats tell a slightly more nuanced story.

Those shoppers who did venture out on Black Friday actually spent more time in stores than last year, and also more money. Compared to 2014, UK shoppers spent 3 per cent more time in shops, even as they visited 6 per cent fewer stores. Bargain hungry customers also spent a modest 1 per cent more on products than last year: average spending per shopper this year was £114 - still a tidy amount of money.

Since Black Friday isn't a holiday in the UK, however, retailers and shoppers alike paced themselves through the week. The retailers made sure that bargains were available not just on the Friday, and many shoppers either went online on Friday or waited a few days to go to a shopping centre.

Black Friday is a joint online-offline event

Because of the longer period of sales, click and collect was a big winner. The click and collect spend went up 32 per cent this year, and 4 per cent of UK shoppers employed it as an integral part of their Black Friday shopping. Those who were at work on Friday could easily shop from their office desks and pick up products in stores at a later time.

And when combining click and collect with in-store spend, we even see that the modest increase in in-store spend actually is part of a much larger total. Because click and collect spending increased 7 per cent this year - to an average of £90 per shopper - retailers were able to really benefit from the joint online-offline shopping. Shoppers, as well, seem to have truly embraced the flexibility click and collect offers them.

The boosted popularity of click and collect shows that even though online spending increased on this year's Black Friday, it didn't outright replace going to the shopping centre. Many shoppers now do not differentiate between online and offline, regularly combining online and offline shopping as one seamless experience, and next year's Black Friday will probably be even more integrated in this sense.

Black Friday shoppers are getting smarter

Because of all the Black Friday changes, retailers and consumers are continually adapting alongside each other. This year, shoppers across the UK came well prepared and by visiting fewer shops than last year they were able to find the deals where they wanted more efficiently.

One issue remaining for retailers, however, is that the proportion of those shoppers who would recommend the shopping centre has decreased from two thirds to just over half: 44 per cent of shoppers this year would not recommend the shopping centre they visited based on their Black Friday shopping trip. With this number increasing from the more frenzied Black Friday last year, retailers and landlords should really focus their attention on improving the experience and creating a more positive event for next year's shopping.

As Black Friday 2016 looks to be even more of a shopping week than a shopping day, retailers should put their efforts into making it a real starting signal for the Christmas shopping period.