Black Friday is back

As the spectre of Black Friday looms again, we look back at some research we did this time last year and ask if retailers have learnt anything.

Again the predictions for Black Friday are rife. The Telegraph reports that sales are expected to exceed £1 billion just online this Friday, with the total sales hitting £1.39 bn and the whole weekend accounting for £3.5 billion.

However, in our article 'Black Friday - who wins?' we looked at research from the US showing interest was already waning last year, and the only option was for retailers to cut deeper or longer.  Argos has already acknowledged this, advertising "12 days of amazing deals" as well as deals every Friday up until Christmas, whilst Homebase is running their discounts for a whole week. Amazon is reported to have started 10 days of deals, whilst Currys has gone down the 'deeper' route, increasing the number of deals by 40%.

Asda, meanwhile is reported to have cancelled its Black Friday event altogether, after having been instrumental in bringing it to the UK, and certainly their black Friday website hasn't been updated for this year.

This is precisely the challenge that we reported on last year - that in order to maintain momentum retailers must cut deeper or longer. Of course Asda has now abandoned the 'race to the bottom' altogether, and one could argue that Argos has too - by discounting over a very long period.

However, this is perhaps a more opportune moment for shoppers to seize the upper hand. Last year we noted that shoppers are only likely to grab a bargain if they'd done some proper research beforehand. Prices were rarely more than 10% below a reasonable alternative. But shoppers had to go in store to grab the best bargains, meaning there was no opportunity to compare. With retailers offering discounts for a longer period, the shopper no longer has to take an instant decision and can research to make sure they are really getting a bargain.

So maybe this year, the shopper wins?