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Black Friday 2020, a week on: what did we learn?

On 5th November 2020, the UK was sent into its second lockdown and retail stores up and down the country had to once again temporarily close their doors.

With Christmas around the corner and people confined to their homes during this key trading period, there were high hopes for online sales over the Black Friday weekend.

So, how did Black Friday 2020 compare with other years and did online sales deliver as the industry predicted?

Well, whilst sales in physical stores predictably fell, a wave of eager bargain hunters and Christmas shoppers did indeed take to their devices to seek out the best deals.

Google reported a staggering 250% increase in Black Friday sales searches from last year. And according to IMRG, there was a 30% growth in online retail sales over the full Black Friday week.

Spending was down however, with Barclaycard reporting that overall payments made to retailers on Black Friday dropped by 16.7% compared to a year ago.

Here at Loqate, we saw a significant rise in shoppers using our type-ahead address technology.

On Black Friday in the UK, we experienced a 51% increase in usage compared to 2019. And on Cyber Monday, our address software saw 104% more users than last year.

Globally, we hit 413 million server requests on Black Friday– the largest day we’ve ever had. And interestingly, the busiest hour for shoppers was between 4pm and 5pm that same day.

The days in the run up to the Black Friday weekend were also busier than expected, as many retailers chose to spread their sales out. As well as giving customers longer to shop, the extended window gave retailers more opportunity to sell stock they hadn’t sold earlier in the year due to the pandemic.

In fact, we’ve seen a sharp rise in usage since October, indicating that Christmas shopping may have started early for many this year.

This is a trend echoed in our report Christmas Unwrapped: Changes to Consumer Shopping and Delivery Expectations. The report – which analysed how the Covid-19 pandemic would impact the way people shop – found that over a fifth (22%) of respondents started shopping in October and 28% started in November.

Matthew Furneaux, Global Commercial Director at Loqate, comments: “With the UK in lockdown, we always predicted that this Black Friday would be different. What we didn’t know, was how the economic climate would impact spending during this key retail period.

“Through analysing the data published, it’s safe to say that this was the biggest Black Friday in terms of the number of online sales and our own statistics certainly reflect this trend. Interestingly though, there was a lower level of spend this year, so whilst there was more activity online, purchases were smaller in value compared to 2019.”

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