April is traditionally a time not just for looking forward but also for taking stock of the financial year just gone and trying to factor the lessons learned into strategies that can be applied over the next twelve months or so.
And for retailers in particular, last year brought something new in the shape of ‘Black Friday.’ Following the US model, retailers offered pre-Christmas discounts for a day (or more likely a weekend) and the results were spectacular. Witness John Lewis who reported a 22% rise in Black Friday sales when compared with the year before.
But before we get too excited, it has to be pointed out that with the impact of a relatively new retail event, John Lewis was highlighting not only the opportunities but also the challenges of an increasingly complicated market.
Those complications include discount-driven sales on Black Friday itself coupled with changing consumer habits across the whole Christmas period. For instance, John Lewis saw its online sales rise 19% in the five weeks to December 27 – no surprises there, perhaps – and also a 56% rise in click-and-collect purchases, with consumers buying online and picking the goods up at a local store. Continue reading