Blog: Just another Manic Monday?

Petah Marian | 28 November 2011

As US retailers give thanks for the jump in sales over Thanksgiving weekend, with  Black Friday and Cyber Monday now firmly etched into the US shopping calendar, international retailers are now hoping to import these into the UK.

While UK consumers lack the holiday (and subsequent food hangover) ahead of the national day of skiving that is Cyber Monday, for many, this weekend has offered the last pay-check that many will receive in the run up to Christmas.

And with the UK consumer looking increasingly pressed, and the retail sector looking increasingly bleak, Many retailers on this side of the Atlantic have jumped on the bandwagon, with Oasis, Gap, Whistles, Debenhams, Asos, All Saints, among others all hosting flash sales today.

With the Interactive Media in Retail Group forecasting that UK consumers will spend GBP7.75bn online in the five-week period before Christmas, if retailers look online, they may not need to write off Christmas just yet, albeit at a discount.

Indeed, these flash sales reflect the increasing propensity for the UK consumer to shop at a discount. Indeed, the CEO of online discount retailer BrandAlley UK, Rob Feldmann, said: "The current economic climate with increasing inflationary pressures has undoubtedly constrained the retail sector, however, as this survey clearly illustrates, consumers are not necessarily spending less but are definitely becoming more savvy in their spending.  Discount buying is increasingly becoming the norm and people expect to find the best offers online."

According to research from A.T. Kearney, the 28 November and 5 December will be a crucial time before Christmas, when consumers have the most money available, and with online shopping becoming increasingly sophisticated, online retailers will be well-placed to reap a larger share of what consumers spend this Christmas - and more if weather conditions mimic those of 2009 or 2010.

While discounting is a double edged sword (high sales/lower margin), the opportunity this period presents unlikely to be repeated in the near-term with consumer confidence likely to remain bleak into the New Year.

"As far as the general retail situation in the UK is concerned, one man's gain is another man's loss, and much of the successes of online retailers will come at the expense of the high street," said  AT Kearney's Emmanuel Hembert. "UK consumers are seeing their real incomes squeezed due to pay freezes, growing unemployment and rising living costs, and will remain cautious with their spending in the months to come."


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