IMRG Black Friday online retail forecast 2016

IMRG, supported by SimilarWeb data, is forecasting that £6.77bn will be spent on UK online retail sites over the Black Friday peak period this year, covering the period Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016, as the annual Christmas shopping event continues to evolve in duration and scale.

The forecast is based on UK online retail sales data from IMRG and online retail site traffic volume data from SimilarWeb.

51% of that total is expected to be completed through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) – with smartphones accounting for a larger share of mobile device sales (53% - £1.83bn) than tablets for the first time.

The ‘Black Friday peak period’ started out as a single day of discounting activity, which then became a weekend (in 2014), an extended period (in 2015) and now looks set to span an entire week on average – during which time we anticipate that a high volume of pre-Christmas sales will be made.

IMRG, supported by SimilarWeb data, is also forecasting a +16% rise in spend on retail sites on Black Friday itself, bringing the total up to £1.27bn – although exactly how the week’s spend will be spread out across each of the days making up the Black Friday period remains the key question to be settled.

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG: “Black Friday as an event has shown a remarkable capacity for evolving each year and it seems set to change further this year. How the spend is spread across the days of the week depends on two things. Firstly, while there is no consensus on campaign durations among retailers, some are likely to try launching theirs earlier in the Black Friday week this year to secure their share of spend and steal a march on their competitors (indeed, some major retailers have already launched theirs). The other key factor concerns how shoppers actually respond – how early will they be willing to start their Christmas shopping, will many just wait until the Black Friday day itself, will they respond quickly to campaigns, pulling order volumes forward from Black Friday and potentially creating new peak days in the process? These are the questions that will shape how this period evolves in 2016.” 

Nitzan Tamari, VP Marketing at SimilarWeb: "Looking back at the 2015 holiday season, we can see that Black Friday was the highest online traffic day in the UK with a 34% increase in visits versus other days in the season. Boxing Day comes in at a close second.  We are closely monitoring our desktop and mobile web data both in the UK and globally in order to understand if those trends continue this year, and we look forward to reporting on the Christmas Season shopping results with IMRG in a few weeks."

How Black Friday has evolved

Between 2010 and 2013, Black Friday gradually built up momentum with campaigns typically just focusing on the day itself. Then in 2014 Black Friday became a huge event in the UK, overtaking Cyber Monday as the peak pre-Christmas online shopping day and extending over a four-day weekend – becoming the ‘Black Friday period’ rather than being exclusively focused on the day itself. 
Last year (2015), some retailers launched their campaigns in the days leading up to Black Friday – extending the peak period still further with the bulk of activity occurring between Thursday 26 and Monday 30 November.

This year we anticipate that it will extend again still further on the whole, to cover a longer period in the lead-up to Black Friday.

How it compares with last year

Total estimated spend for the 4-day peak weekend in 2015 was £3.3bn. Broken down as follows:

Note – the 2015 estimate is not a direct comparison in terms of timeframe as the peak period seems set to shift this year.



Andy Mulcahy
T: +44 (0)203 696 0992

About IMRG 

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry. 

We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 additional KPIs. 

Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally.  

About SimilarWeb 

SimilarWeb is the standard for understanding the digital world. SimilarWeb’s market intelligence solutions provide customers with the insights into their market for any website or app across all industries worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of businesses, including Ebay, L’Oreal, Google and AirBnB, use SimilarWeb’s insights to understand, track and grow their digital market share. 


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