Black Friday is historically a high-traffic time for those in the logistics industry. More resources are required to meet the higher-than-usual consumer demand in retail, both for eCommerce stores as well as traditional bricks and mortar outlets. Black Friday has seen a steady growth in recent years, originating from the U.S and now a phenomenon in the UK too, in 2019, Black Friday sales in Britain jumped by 16.5% compared with the previous year.
What was once celebrated on a single day, is now spread over several weeks – with some brands already kicking off their 2020 Black Friday deals, in light of this difficult year. The event is swiftly followed by Cyber Weekend (previously referred to as Cyber Monday), which offers similar deals and savings to customers – but is limited to online purchases only. This year, Black Friday will occur on 27th November, with Cyber Monday on 30th November.
How Will Black Friday Be Different This Year?
With the exception of supermarkets and other essential retailers, Black Friday, for the first time in its lifespan, will be mostly confined to online operations this year (rendering the notion of Cyber Weekend less novel than in recent years). This, of course, is due to the UK being in a second nation-wide lockdown that is projected to last until at least 2nd December, 5 days after the usual Black Friday event. What this means is that eCommerce procedures will be met with a much greater demand from their website hosting capabilities, right through to the capacities of their warehouses and couriers.
With attention taken away from the usual offline operation – which has been notorious in past years for long queues, packed out stores and even in rare cases, brawls – retailers will likely have more budget and labour to put into ensuring that their online presence can withstand more traffic and interest than what they might have had in previous weeks and months. Timed with the last payday for most people before Christmas, Black Friday has a reputation for being one of the busiest times for businesses, even without deals on display. It’s estimated that around £8.57bn was spent last year.
The notion of retail moving online is not necessarily a new one, and especially not for Black Friday. In fact, around 23.8% of shoppers prefer exclusive online deal-hunting and in 2019, UK shoppers were expected to spend more over Cyber Weekend than on Black Friday itself. However, this is the first year where operations have been forced online completely – retailers do not have a choice but to adapt if they wish to jump on the trend.
What this means for logistics, is undoubtedly an adjustment of usual procedures. Where transport workers were surely the unsung heroes during the first national lockdown, keeping supermarket shelves full and healthcare organisations supplied, businesses will now look again to logistics to accommodate the changing face of Black Friday. During times like these, where pressure is ramped up and circumstances are different than usual, Just In Time (JIT) logistics is an efficient and clever way to navigate the changing climate.
Is This A New Normal For Retailers?
The phrase “new normal” has been passed around a lot over the course of the last few months, with many thinking that trends such as working from home and social distancing may continue for years to come. Can this also be said for retail? Will there be a shift to eCommerce not only this Black Friday, but permanently?
Naturally, only time will tell, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we value human interaction. With this in mind, it’s unlikely that all businesses will move online in their entirety, as the novelty of heading out and shopping in person is unlikely to be lost on people any time soon. Though the high street is without doubt in a difficult position, we are also seeing the likes of Primark completely resisting the shift to eCommerce, a controversial, but well-respected decision.
When it comes to logistics, the sector has to be more tuned in than ever to facilitate fluid demands as we navigate through these times. There are plenty of uncertainties ahead for retail, but the transportation sector is well-prepared to handle it.