Black Friday Benchmarks

November 24, 2020 Sorcha OBoyle

Black Friday is upon us – though it’s different this year for, well, obvious reasons. 

We know you’re knee-deep in campaigns, flash sales, and last-minute changes (it’s normal to have changes and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, adaptability is key to weathering the storm). That’s why we’re sharing our notes so you can see what’s going on in the wider industry – right now.

Overall, direct revenue continues to show strong growth and has been 50% up YOY for the past number of weeks, an improvement on the 30% YOY increase we saw in the weeks pre-lockdown. Even clothing retailers have seen an improvement in direct performance with the arrival of winter weather. 

Naturally, however, there is variation across the sector. The pandemic and its lockdowns have had devastating effects on some brands while others have seen an increase in revenue they could never have expected. Those reliant on bricks and mortar stores suffered if they did not quickly pivot to digital. Footwear, workwear and travel have been the hardest hit and continue to trail behind in terms of recovery whereas furniture, DIY and consumables have done well, particularly where they have good digital capability.  

The biggest learning we can take from 2020 is the importance of digital channels. While in-store shopping will continue post-lockdown, brands who do not quickly embrace digital channels (and have modern, fit-for-purpose CRMas part of their marketing mix will suffer.  

We know you’re busy so this week we’ll take a closer look at the 2 topics you’re really interested in right now: 

  1. Black Friday 
  2. Lockdown 2 (its impact and what to do about it) 

Black Friday 

The prevailing wisdom a month ago was that retailers would approach Black Friday cautiously and would be reluctant to discount, hoping to recoup some of this year’s losses through a high proportion of full-price sales.  

Lockdown 2 put paid to that.  

In response to the loss of in-store revenue, online channels became the primary vehicle through which retailers could access their customers and heavy discounting tactics were quickly launched. As early as last week, discounting hit levels that retailers would previously have baulked at.  

The increase in discounting was mirrored by an increase in Facebook CPC which has now stabilised, though it remains above October’s run rate – not surprising given the time of yearSearch traffic has also continued to rise thanks to an increase in Black Friday messaging, though some sectors have been skewed by significant new product launches like the PS5. 

The early onset of Black Friday discounting is a continuation of a trend that has been creeping up for the past 2-3 years but adverse trading conditions of 2020 have accelerated the process as brands try to woo customers into buying early.  

We expect customers to hang back on purchasing until late this week so brands will need to be confident that their websites are capable of dealing with demand.  

Lockdown 2 

Unsurprisingly, lockdown has resulted in a decrease in retail performance overall. Store-dominant customers were one of the most interesting cohorts to watch during Lockdown 1; they accounted for nearly 28% of online sales in late March, up 10% on February. However, this fell back to normal levels in the summer and has risen to only 20% during Lockdown 2, a considerable difference. Whether this is because customers are holding out for bigger discounts on Black Friday or they’re simply waiting out the lockdown remains to be seen. 


% revenue online from store-dominant customers 

Brands remain divided when it comes to the future of physical stores. Some are migrating online for good while others are opening more stores in response to demand – particularly in market towns where commuters have embraced the small town WFH lifestyle. 

Regardless, brands should focus on creating special messaging for their in-store shoppers. Even though they’ve proven that they can buy online when they have to, the propensity for store-dominant customers to return to the high street demonstrates that they need special messaging. After all, nothing displays more interest than walking through your shop door. 

We’ll have more insights and benchmarks next week so you can compare your Black Friday performance with industry standards.


It’s a strange world out there but you’ve done the hard work and there’s the promise of vaccines on the horizon – good luck this week and we’ll see you on the other side!  

While you’re here – places are filling up on our Get Set for 2021 Workshop where we’ll sprint through 8 topics as voted by you! Sign up here and get your hitlist of tips and tricks for a successful 2021. 

 And if you’d like to learn more about anything we’ve said here, drop us a line at! 




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