BLACK FRIDAY BLUES: Black Friday has left another unsightly blot on the books of Britain’s retailers. According to the monthly retail sales tracker from BDO, the British accountancy and advisory firm, like-for-like sales at mid-market retailers slumped 1.4 percent year-on-year in December, due to the early sales frenzy on Black Friday. BDO said Wednesday that fashion was the hardest hit, down 3.1 percent for the month, with like-for-like sales in week to Christmas down 6.1 percent.

“For most retailers, Black Friday took the wind out of their sails for December,” said Sophie Bevan, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP. “The unseasonal weather over the autumn left fashion stores with stock to shift, but the hype around Black Friday meant many shoppers had spent the majority of their budget by the end of November.”

“When like-for-like sales dropped by over 3 percent in the second week of December, retailers started to get nervous, resulting in early discounting. But we will not see the real cost that these heavy promotional activities have had on margins until the post-Christmas reckoning of results,” she added.
        
Earlier this week, Andy Street, managing director of the British department store chain John Lewis, said that while Black Friday was a boon for sales in 2014, the early discounting shifted demand to November from the weeks immediately before Christmas. He said he hoped the day would not gain serious traction in the U.K.

“It is not in the interests of retailers to continue to grow the pace of Black Friday at the expense of other weeks,” Street said, adding that the day should, however, remain a promotional one for electrical goods.

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