Black Friday fails to relieve stricken UK high streets

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Black Friday sales

Black Friday failed to provide much-needed relief from the challenges that plague UK high streets and more high-profile closures are likely next year, according to new data.

Advisory firm BDO said like-for-like sales at bricks-and-mortar retailers flatlined during Black Friday, with growth coming in at less than 0.5 per cent.

BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker also indicated that footfall on UK high streets plunged 6.5 per cent compared to 2017’s Black Friday week.

This represented the biggest drop in three years.

Nonetheless, like-for-like sales for online retailers grew 30.8 per cent, the best week for non-store sales in the year to date and the strongest Black Friday week since 2014.

“Retailers will be hugely disappointed with the flat in-store sales last week,” BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said.

“Many have been manacled by a dire high street performance this year and forced to take part in Black Friday even at the cost of margin.

“Last year, high street retailers suffered their fifth successive December of negative sales growth.

“They will be desperately hoping next month won’t mark the sixth but this Black Friday performance won’t be giving them much hope.

“Like it or loathe it, this American import is now firmly part of the UK’s shopping calendar and it takes a bold retailer to withhold discounting.

“The weeks leading up to Christmas are no longer the golden trading period but a discounting frenzy fuelled by attempts to entice shoppers into stores and rescue poor sales performance for the year to date.”

She added: “It’s unfortunate, but likely, that we’ll see more high-profile store closures next year.

“With today’s shoppers enticed online, on mobile and on social media, competition is rife and brand loyalty is essential.

“Consumers are in charge now and it’s up to retailers to fight hard for their attention and pounds.

“Putting technology and the customer experience first, while making some tough decisions about their physical portfolio, will be the focus for retailers as we enter 2019.”

Online retail giant Amazon – often credited for introducing Black Friday to the UK and considered a leader in the sales campaign – has not yet unveiled its financial figures for Black Friday.

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