Only 1% of shoppers plan to start Christmas shopping on Black Friday

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Black Friday may have become confirmed in shoppers’ minds as “the” time to shop for pre-Christmas bargains, but despite how far away from Christmas Day it falls, it doesn’t represent the start of Christmas shopping at all. Almost two thirds of people (62%) prefer to start their seasonal shopping earlier than Black Friday itself when just 1% plan to start it, according to new research conducted by IMRG, the UK online retail association, and digital insights company Toluna.

With inflation putting pressure on household spending, many respondents seemed keen to spread the cost of Christmas shopping, with 31% indicating that they would start before November, 16% in early November and 15% mid-November. A further 9% didn’t know when they’d start shopping and 8% planned to start during the sales period that Black Friday kicks off. While 4% hate Christmas, 3% will start whenever retailers launch their sales campaigns and just 1% start on Black Friday. The majority of the remainder said they would start their shopping in December.

The majority of shoppers (59%) usually or sometimes wait for discounts before buying products. For over a quarter of people (26%) it depends on what they are buying as to whether they wait for discounts. For 7% of shoppers, discounts don’t make a difference and they just buy what they want, when they want it and 7% always wait for discounts before purchasing.

When questioned on why they would pay full price for a product, quality comes out top on 40%. Close behind it is if the shopper really wants it, on 37%, with a tight deadline coming in third on 13%.

When it comes to more expensive items, shoppers are showing less appetite for paying full price compared with last year. In 2016, 39% of people reported having paid full price for a product which cost more than £100 in the past year; however in 2017 this dropped to 13%.

Paul Twite, Managing Director Europe and MENA of Toluna, comments: “While Black Friday is an important date for pre-Christmas shopping, the fact that most people have already started shopping for those on their ‘nice’ list shows they’re keen to spread the cost of Christmas over several months. For retailers, it means there are many sales opportunities prior to 24th November that they should be taking advantage of.”

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director of IMRG, comments: “Black Friday is probably the most important date in the retail calendar when volumes reach an annual high but, as this survey suggests, the Christmas shopping period still extends over a very long period. This is because different people approach shopping in different ways; retailers report that searches for ‘Christmas’ start to rise as early as July each year, while other people might only start thinking about it the week of Christmas itself. The opportunity is to identify these different segments and develop targeting strategies for each over that period as appropriate.

“Interestingly, for an event that has proven so divisive in the past, sentiment toward Black Friday hardly changed this year – with 33% saying they love or like it, up from 31.5% in 2016, and 25% saying they hate or dislike it, up from 24.5%. The remainder, 42%, had no strong feelings either way, up from 44% in 2016.”

Getting involved in discount events such as Black Friday is by no means compulsory for brands. The majority of shoppers (66%) said that whether a brand participates in sales like this does not impact on how they see the brand. Over a quarter (26%) actually respects the brand for not taking part, with only 7% responding that they wouldn’t shop somewhere that doesn’t participate.

When it comes to where consumers think the best deals are found, the High Street has increased its share from 9% in 2016 to 13% in 2017. The number who think here is no difference between online and the High Street has increased from 34% in 2016 to 37% in 2017. And while in 2016, 56% thought online had the edge, this dropped to 50% in 2017.


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