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Shops prepare for Black Friday frenzy

This Friday will once again see the unofficial start to Christmas sales in US stores, as the annual bedlam seen on the day after Thanksgiving begins.

Amazon warehouse ahead of Black Friday
Source: Bloomberg

The importance of this day has increased as more retailers use the opportunity of a long weekend of shopping to kick-start fourth-quarter sales drives. Over the last eight years we have seen sales more than double, from an estimated $26.8 billion in 2005 to last year’s $61.4 billion.

International shopping habits

Although the habit of bargain hunting the day after a national holiday is an American one, it is something that has picked up traction in the UK and Europe as the demise of high streets has brought a notable shift in shopping habits. The convenience of internet shopping and the ability to have your purchases prepared for collection, or delivered to your office or home, has continued to gain popularity, and when buying goods on the internet there is little difference in buying from someone a mile away as there is from someone on the other side of the planet.  As online retail shopping is global, the trends of other regions have been more easily assimilated.

Retailers poised to milk benefits

This year Visa has estimated that Black Friday will see us spending £6,000 every second in the UK, or £1 million every three minutes. It has also calculated that Friday will see shopping up by 22% from last year, and rise by some 8.5 million online transactions over the day. Tesco the UK food retailer also expects to benefit from this shopping frenzy, and has predicted that purchases on Friday will be greater than those made on Boxing Day.

This is certainly the hope in any case, as earnings announcements made by major clothing retailers over the last month have seen reoccurring themes of poor sales due to the unusually mild weather. With the threat of an overhang of winter supply now weighing on forecasts, it is no surprise to see companies lining up to make the most of the Black Friday magic in order to shift goods;  US-parented company ASDA is, on Friday only, offering shoppers the opportunity to buy a Coleman 4x4 quad bike for £3,500 (50% of the normal retail price), while Sainsbury’s will for the first time ever be running special Black Friday offers in all stores.

Trading opportunities

So which companies look best placed to benefit?

Since Black Friday really took off in the UK in 2010, Amazon has increased the deals it offers users by a factor of ten. This year the company will be cutting prices by on average 40%, which should ensure that sales outstrip last year’s impressive figures.

Its incredibly successful penguin Christmas advert should ensure private company John Lewis enjoys a busy day of sales. Last year was the company’s busiest online shopping day ever, doubling its previous record, and management has already stated that it believes 2014 will prove even more successful.

The relatively recent launch of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus should ensure that once again Apple goods are at the top of shoppers’ wish lists. In an effort to extend the benefits, Apple is going to be launching 25 new apps and will be donating a proportion of its sales from Monday 1 December to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

Coinciding with the relatively recent launch of both Halo 5 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas, GAME Digital will be hoping that pre-Christmas bargain hunters will be picking up these latest must-have games.

One thing we can be sure of is that not even wild horses could drag this analyst to the shops when Friday comes.

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