Stressful Black Friday store experience ‘driving consumers online’

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New research conducted by market optimisation solutions suite Periscope By McKinsey suggests consumer attitudes to Black Friday are growing increasingly negative.

Having spoken to US and UK consumers on their attitudes towards Black Friday 2016 and how they plan to shop, the survey showed limited involvement and decreased interest amongst consumers for Black Friday.

31% of US respondents stated that they have always disliked shopping on Black Friday, and 29% believe it is simply a marketing trick with retailers manipulating pricing to convince consumers they are getting a good deal. In the UK, 42% of respondents also said Black Friday is a “marketing trick”. As such, half of US (51%) and UK (48%) respondents confirmed that they have no plans to shop this year. Of those who will make a purchase, only 7% of US and 4% of UK shoppers say they will limit most of their Black Friday shopping to stores, with most preferring to shop online, or do both.

With 13% (US) and 9% (UK) saying that the “stores are just too chaotic”, 39% of US and 42% of UK shoppers plan to do the majority or all of their Black Friday shopping online (compared to 35% and 33% in 2015), the report suggests.

black-friday-onlineConvenience is driving consumers toward online shopping, with many saying it is easier than going to stores on Black Friday (27% US, and 25% UK). Shoppers are also planning to purchase higher priced items online this Black Friday (79% US, 78% UK), and 70% will shop across a much wider range of categories.

Periscope global general manager for retail Channie Mize commented: “The research highlights that consumers consider the Black Friday experience stressful and inconvenient compared to shopping online. The physical store is not dead, but struggling. Retailers need to find new attractive ways to draw consumers into their stores, using data-driven insights to inform the buying, assortment and promotional activities to maximum effect across all channels, giving customers the great experience they crave.”

Looking at where consumers will spend their money during Black Friday 2016, consumer electronics continues to be king, with 55% of US and 49% of UK shoppers saying this will be a key category in which they are looking to make purchases.

Negative consumer feeling towards Black Friday also appears to be impacting the way shoppers budget for the event.  11% of UK consumers have planned to spend £200 or less (10% in the US). The highest budget response was in the US, where 6% have a planned budget of $400-$500. In contrast, the UK’s highest budget was £150-£200 from 5% of respondents. 15% of consumers in both countries have said they plan to spend under $50 (or £50) on individual items purchased across Black Friday.

The research also examined which devices shoppers were most likely to use. While all consumers spend more and more time living their lives through devices such as tablets and smartphones, they do not plan to use mobile devices extensively for their online shopping around Black Friday, the research suggests. Desktop devices remain dominant with 55% of UK shoppers planning to use them this shopping season. Tablets are gaining popularity, but still only 29% of UK consumers plan to use them to complete transactions.

The smart phone (66% US and 70% UK) was considered the best device for getting ideas when shopping, but was behind tablets and desktop devices for deeper research and making purchases.

Periscope managing partner Brian Elliot added: “Black Friday is not about to disappear, but crowds and standing in line continue to be its number one detractors – as the customer experience improves online, consumers are aware and intentionally planning to shift their purchases. Retailers beware!

“Retailers must take note of the behavioural changes taking place in consumers, and experiment with new models of cross channel shopping. Making these fundamental changes is not easy and requires organizations to overcome significant technological and organizational challenges for them to be successful – but they are the key to their future.”

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