High-street reacting to online promotions: PwC Report

For the last six years, PwC has collected data in November and December on promotions available in the shop windows and on the homepages of leading department and chain stores across the UK high streets.

This year our research shows that, at any one point over the last four weeks, only 15% of retailers did not engage in any promotional activity (versus c.30% last year).

Not surprisingly, this year’s promotional activity was heavily focused in the week of Black Friday (25 November).

During that week, 74% of retailers offered in-store discounts – more than in any other week since the survey began in 2011.

As in 2015, promotional activity appears to be primarily focused online.

Almost 90% of retailers’ websites featured promotions in Black Friday week versus 74% in store.

Commenting on the data, Andy Lyon, retail & consumer partner at PwC in the Midlands said:

“Retailers typically try to spread promotional activity to reduce pressures on stores and online fulfilment. Indeed, over the last five years, the number of retailers on promotion has slowly increased in the weeks following Black Friday.

“This year, however, our research shows that one in four retailers on promotion during Black Friday week returned to full price sales the following week.

This suggests that some retailers are being more strategic with promotions, carefully planning in order to preserve margin over the critical festive period.

“It has been interesting to see this year how retailers across the UK high streets and online have been adapting to the growing influence of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Our research shows the majority of retailers we collected data from acknowledged Black Friday and proactively promoted sales around the event; many for up to a fortnight.

“High street retailers are having to adapt their promotions to the rise of online shopping and in a recent survey conducted for PwC, over half (53%) of participants said they would make their purchases online this Christmas, compared to 43% in store.

“It is also interesting to see how retailers are responding to challenges, tactically increasing promotions at different times and in different channels to drive footfall and to protect margin over the festive period.”

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