A quarter of UK retailers are struggling to offer Black Friday deals this year as they grapple with inflation and supply chain issues, a survey suggests.
Half of retailers (50%) are concerned about this year’s sales weekend, citing shipping costs, supply chain issues and inflation, with 30% fearing they cannot fulfil a spike in demand for goods and 25% saying they will struggle to offer significant Black Friday discounts.
Almost half (47%) have invested in early advertising campaigns in an effort to avoid a run on stock and to play down expectations of big sales without harming their bottom line, the poll for payment solutions provider Checkout.com found.
However, consumers appear determined to make the most of this year’s festive season after last year’s Covid-related restrictions, with 41% saying they have started their seasonal shopping early to avoid disappointment.
More than a third (36%) say they are concerned that items they want to buy this festive period will be out of stock and 28% are worried that the items they have already ordered online will not turn up in time for Christmas.
By early November, 50% of UK merchants reported a “definite early uptick” in seasonal sales.
Moshe Winegarten, retail sector lead at Checkout.com, said: “This year’s critical festive sales period looks set to be complicated by challenges that are beyond most retailers’ control.
“Rather than being a big bang moment, we can expect this year’s festive shopping season to start earlier, be more sustained, and defined by higher-level transactions.”
There are signs, however, that, while spending may be less concentrated over the Black Friday weekend, this year’s longer festive sales period could still be a profitable one for retailers.
Half of UK retailers (52%) expect that consumers will spend more this Christmas than they did in 2020.
And if they can encourage a steady flow of traffic over a prolonged shopping season there is cause for optimism that revenues will be healthy and that a slightly muted Black Friday might actually make for a smoother experience all round.
Meanwhile, less impulsive shopping and a heightened awareness of shipping complexities may have some upsides as 71% of British consumers say they have no intention of returning a single item bought online this Christmas.
– Opinium surveyed 252 retailers and 2,000 UK adults between October 29 and November 8.