Retailers ‘must digitise business’ as Black Friday attracts more shoppers

Retailers ‘must digitise business’ as Black Friday attracts more shoppers

By Pádraig Hoare

A third of Irish shoppers will spend more on Black Friday on November 23 and Cyber Monday on November 26 shopping events this year than last, with more than half of those willing to part with up to €500.

Those were some of the findings of a retail study by PwC, which said a fifth of shoppers will spend on the two days with the vast majority being spent online, a further indication of the difficulties facing bricks and mortar retailers.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have their origins in the US, where the Thanksgiving tradition on the fourth Thursday of November is now followed by a Friday where retailers offer promotional sales, often with apparently major discounts.

It became a trend in the US in the 2000s, and has now become an event for Irish stores and shoppers alike in recent years. The PwC study, carried out by Amarach Research, said 19% will shop on the occasion, with 51% of those spending between €100 and €500 on both days.

Two-thirds of those shoppers said that they will spend online.

There was a boost for street retailers when it comes to Christmas shopping, with almost three- in-five saying they preferred spending in-store than online.

About 60% of consumers will not do their Christmas shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, preferring to do it in the run-up to the festive period.

Over a quarter of Christmas shoppers will spend more this year than in 2017, the report found. Senior manager of PwC’s retail and consumer practice, Grace McCullen said Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be viewed as a “huge retail opportunity” for stores.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday drives footfall to stores and conversions online. Proactive retailers should leverage that appetite and seek to maximise the extended Christmas trading period, capitalising on targeted promotions and margin management opportunities,” she said.

The shift towards online shopping has led to major difficulties for retailers in Ireland and the UK, with names like House of Fraser and Debenhams restructuring with store closures and thousands of job losses.

Famed outlets such as Toys R Us have gone to the wall in the UK and Ireland, while Sears in the US filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

The PwC report found 23% of Irish shoppers buy online weekly with a further 27% purchasing at least a few times a month.

Just under half of 18-to 34-year-olds plan to make their Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases via their mobile phones, while a third of over 55s plan to purchase online via laptop or desktop.

Ms McCullen said: “The survey gives a clear message that retailers must digitise their businesses to offer an integrated seamless online and mobile experience alongside that in-store.

Retailer-owned media channels, including websites, apps and social media, are powerful methods to directly entice and engage with shopper segments.

"They can also help retailers reach the ultimate goal of long-term customer value.”

Clothing and electronics are by far the biggest markets for shoppers on the two days, the report said.

Electronics is most popular with men while clothes and footwear are most popular with women, it found.

PwC director of retail and consumer practice, Owen McFeely said Irish retailers should embrace the data provided by the mobile phone shopping experience to boost business.

“With mobile purchasing becoming more popular, technology provides a gateway for shoppers seeking value with faster and smarter choices.

Data is king and it also offers brands and retailers the prospect of using and growing their database to deliver personalised offers and better customer experience.

“And while there is a paradox of privacy and trust, in our experience, consumers are prepared to share their information with retailers as long as trust is in place and they receive something valuable in return,” he said.

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