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IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index: Black Friday no silver bullet for retailers as November records below average growth

20 Dec 2017

UK online retail sales were up +11.5% year-on-year (YoY) in November, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Though Black Friday itself achieved a slightly higher growth of 11.7% YoY, this overall monthly figure was notably below the November growth average for the past four years (+18.3%), and is in line with the generally lower rate of growth recorded throughout 2017. Indeed, November’s overall YoY growth was also lower than the 12.7% average of the last 3 months (Sep-Nov).

Looking specifically at Black Friday performance, it was evident that it was the medium-sized retailers (those whose websites generate between £10-100 million a year) who tended to secure the highest share of sales growth overall, while the results from the large retailers (those whose websites generate over £100 million a year) were more mixed.

With retailers ever conscious of edging out their competition, monitoring of discount levels across 210 websites in November revealed that they were widely available throughout the whole of November – not just during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period – and this is likely to have impacted on overall revenue growth. This implies less of a focus on pricing strategy for a particular day and more on extending the discount purchase window order to spur growth.

Despite the extended discount windows, many sectors saw a decrease in YoY growth over the month. In particular, having experienced its first YoY growth in 6 months in October, Electricals suffered a -0.9% YoY fall. While week 4 of November – Black Friday week – was up +22%, the rest of the month performed extremely poorly. Week 1 began at -17% YoY, week 2 at -3%, and worst of all was week 5 at -30% YoY growth. This compares to YoY growth of almost 24% in November 2013.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini: “Year on year performance is down across key categories, reflecting the continuation of a tough year for e-retail. While the Black Friday window offered a small spike in performance, it was nowhere near as impactful as the industry would have hoped. The growth in average basket value actually supports this, with ABV being up across most sectors. Its figures essentially serve as a proxy for discount levels – implying that customers are downgrading on brand or price point but increasing the volume of items included within their baskets.”

Justin Opie, managing director, IMRG: “Black Friday is all about discounting in the mind of the shopper and it’s perhaps unsurprising that, while ordering activity is high over that period, revenue growth is struggling to keep pace over November as a whole due to the long lead-in to the Black Friday period. It does raise a question regarding how retailers can actually assess success over that period. On the one hand, securing share of sales away from their competitors is obviously always important to retailers, but it might be that the measurement of success over the Black Friday period is less about order volumes and more about the longer-term view – how new customers acquired can be converted into regular, loyal, higher-margin customers through the quality of the follow-up marketing after the discounting peak is over.”


About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’

The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.

About IMRG

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry.

We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 additional KPIs.

Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally.