West End spend to hit £150m over Black Friday weekend
Retail sales in London’s West End are predicted to reach £150 million over the coming Black Friday weekend, even though Black Friday in the UK is a largely online shopping extravaganza.
If that actually happens, it would mean sales roughly £4 million less than were being predicted this time last year, although that earlier prediction had been slightly ambitious.
The figure comes from the New West End Company, the body that represents retailers in the Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street areas, with NWEC saying there are particular issues this year that could crimp spending.
One big challenge is the timing of Black Friday. Calendar effects mean the event is early this time and there are more days between Black Friday and payday than there were in the last few years.
In some other years it has also fallen just after payday, enjoying an understandable boost because of that. But timing aside, general consumer caution could also play a part as shoppers rein-in spending due to Brexit uncertainty.
However, this could also spur extra effort on the part of retailers to make the Black Friday experience more compelling. It all “means that retailers will be ‘pulling out all the stops’ to ensure they are creating an appealing offer to attract early Christmas spend,” NWEC said.
“The West End’s leading brands will be focusing on experiential moments, sharing knowledge and exclusive in-store-only promotions to draw ‘savvy’ shoppers into the area to spend or browse,” it added.
Black Friday weekend is one of the biggest trading periods of the year and while it mainly benefits retailers with strong online operations, the status of the West End as a magnet for locals, for visitors from across the UK and for international tourists, means that investment in experiences on the part of stores could pay off in increased footfall.
But that doesn't mean that discounts won't be a key focus too. NWEC also highlighted a number of the markdowns and offers West End retailers will be pushing such as 50% off everything at Gap, while the first 50 customers will receive a VIP card giving them 50% off for the rest of the year. Aldo and French Connection are currently offering 50% off too, while there’s up to 40% off at Links of London and Pandora is offering a limited edition bangle with purchases of over £125.
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