James Batham, head of the retail sector at Eversheds, has commented on the importance of Black Friday to the Christmas retail period.
Batham said that retailers will be hoping to end 2014 on a high with a strong Christmas trading period, which starts on Black Friday this week.
He noted that while only recently introduced into the UK by US retailers, Black Friday has quickly become an established part of the Christmas sales calendar, and said: ‘With analysts expecting Britons to spend £42.4bn in the run-up to Christmas, £1.5bn more than last year, competition between retailers will be high. That competition will begin online on Friday, when Visa predicts £518m will be spent online in 8.5 million online transactions with £1m spent every three minutes.’
According to Batham, online sales will be critical, with Deloitte predicting that online shopping alone will account for 13 per cent of total sales. He continued: ‘I fully expect online sales figures to increase again this Christmas, breaking records and benefiting those retailers that have invested in all their digital channels in 2014 and crucially the logistics and IT that will guarantee customer fulfilment.
‘Looking ahead to 2015, retailers will need to further improve their omni-channel offering, embrace technology and focus their attentions on and service their clients’ needs and drivers in what single or mix of channels customers choose. The retail sector is no longer about the product but the total experience that retailers can generate.’