New figures that detail sales from the British high street have today given another damning sentence to the fledging institution: sales had dipped once again by nearly 2%. After a concerning start to the third quarter, reports on the Black Friday week, which is usually one of the busiest of November, presented some underwhelming data for in-store purchases. However, figures have demonstrated that online purchases over the week rose over 25% from the previous year, suggesting that more customers are now turning to the internet to do their Black Friday shopping.
The data, which was released earlier this week, was collated together by BDO (Binder Dijker Otte) as part of their British High Street Tracker, which monitors spending on the UK’s high streets. In a statement, BDO suggested that whilst the figures were disappointing – particularly after November’s rocky start- it was difficult to make any predictions as to whether this was an improvement or disappointment based on last year’s numbers. Black Friday, the unofficial day of bargain shopping which follows the American holiday of Thanksgiving, was held a week later than usual this year and BDO representatives suggest that this may have distorted figures slightly. Thanksgiving is usually held in the US on the last Thursday of November each year.
One of the biggest takeaways from these new figures is that consumers are increasingly unwilling to part with their money unless they feel they’re being offered considerable discounts or price cuts to a variety of products. Whilst the BDO argues that it’s difficult to compare year on year the difference in sales, it’s overwhelmingly clear that the high street consumer is looking for more product for their pound. Black Friday, which remained a purely American institution until the 21st century, is now a staple discounting period for most retailers and many see the period as a chance to boost November sales in the run-up to the critical Christmas period, a time when stores across the country see their busiest times. It adds another thorn in the side of the British high street, which has been struggling to keep up with the thriving digital retail age, particularly when it comes to offering cheaper items at a higher quality.
Retailers will now be looking toward the festive season- Christmas being one of the busiest trading times in the calendar. However, experts are not optimistic that this season will turn around the declining popularity of the British high street.