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Published
Nov 27, 2018
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UK indies' Black Friday fashion and beauty sales rose, but markdowns were steep

Published
Nov 27, 2018

In-store retail spending for independent fashion retailers over the Black Friday shopping period was up 55% compared to an average week, but the discounting rate was 480% higher, showing that those stores were having to work much harder to attract consumer spend. 


Independent fashion retailers discounted heavily during the Black Friday period


That’s according to retail management platform Vend, which works closely with UK small-to-medium and independent retail stores.

By city, Bristol and London appeared to see the biggest overall increases in sales over the Black Friday sales period, with sales up 14% and 13% respectively, compared to previous weeks. Sales in Brighton also increased by 8% and Edinburgh by 4%, while in Manchester there was no change.

And in a sign that consumers might have less cash to hand over this year, Vend’s data also found a slight increase in shoppers paying by credit card this year compared to last. This Black Friday, 48% of sales were taken in cash, with 27% on credit, compared to 54% in cash and 24% on credit a year ago.

While a number of smaller fashion retailers opted out of the Black Friday event this time, health & beauty retailers embraced it, but that didn’t mean it worked for all of them. They saw a slightly smaller, 50%, sales increase, despite their discount activity rising a massive 566%.

The fashion and beauty categories offered the biggest discounts overall with home, lifestyle and gifts discounts rising only 64%, sport, hobbies and toys up 102%, and speciality food and drink rising 66%. And those categories saw smaller sales boosts on the back of their lower discount rates.

Coming after a season characterised by markdowns, the need to discount heavily to attract sales could be a problem for fashion and beauty retailers, said Higor Torchia, UK Country Manager for Vend.

“Heavy discounting can be really tough for independent retailers with smaller margins, especially as we head into the most important trading period of the year,” he explained. “And these retailers have so much more to offer with their unique, cherishable products, compared to some of the bigger stores that can push prices low. But we’ve also seen a 62% increase in discounting overall compared to the rest of October and November. So many smaller retailers are still dropping prices to try and capture footfall.” 

Torchia added that it’s clear that “big discounts don’t necessarily equal big sales, which means that other than a marketing exercise, it really might not be that beneficial for smaller stores to be trying to compete on price.”

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