Black Friday to kick off Christmas consumer bonanza

Friday, 25 November 2016
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today said retailers are preparing for a busy Black Friday weekend following the launch of many sales promotions in recent days. The initiative, which originated in the United States to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season after Thanksgiving, has become a fixture in the pre-Christmas season for Irish retailers in the last couple of years. Many retail outlets are now running promotions over a few days, as opposed to the original one day initiative. With prices falling and retailers heavily discounting products to drive footfall, this Christmas period promises to be the most consumer friendly in many years.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: "This weekend signals the beginning of the real Christmas shopping period for many and Black Friday has become an increasingly important promotional window for retailers in recent years. Many retailers now take the opportunity to expand the promotional cycle into a week long event meaning consumers now have access to post Christmas sales prices in the run up to the festive period. While not necessarily good news for retailer's margins, it's great news for Irish consumers. Already prices are down almost 9% over the last 36 months and that trend is likely to continue over the coming months. There is wonderful value in the market for Irish consumers hunting for bargains, with participating retailers offering reductions of over 25% over the coming days."

Retailers are also preparing their online platforms and distribution networks for the pre-Christmas surge which will come with the much feted Cyber Monday which this years falls on Monday, 28 November. Following sizeable devaluations in sterling in recent weeks, there has been a considerable upsurge in online shopping with online transactions increasing by 20% to over €1.2 billion in the last quarter. Irish retailers have reacted to that move and are heavily discounting products through their online platforms to retain consumers and encourage transactions in the run up to Christmas.

"The emergence of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday pose both a threat and an opportunity for Irish retailers. While helping to drive footfall to stores and online platforms, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday phenomena also potentially displace purchasing decisions by consumers, resulting in potentially less activity closer to Christmas. Retailers will have been planning this period for a number of months and have been putting contingencies in place to meet the extra consumer demand over this weekend. Consumers are increasingly focused on pre-Christmas value and promotional cycles such as this now play an integral role in ensuring that the key Christmas period is a success for any retailer," said Mr Burke.