This year’s Black Friday was the UK’s biggest yet, with consumers spending £1.1bn on the day, up 35% on 2014 according to Experian. However, despite this boost, the BRC’s latest figures show that November’s retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2011, with most of the Black Friday halo felt online.

As the trend for January sales creeping into December looks set to continue, what lessons can retailers take from Black Friday to position themselves for success? Here we share highlights of research Pragma commissioned into the nation’s Christmas shopping habits to help answer that question.

Know your audience
Despite the hype, the holiday sales do not have universal appeal. Similar to Black Friday, they resonate much more with younger consumers: 40% of under 35s told us they are looking forward to the post-Christmas sales vs. only 20% of over 35 year olds. Furthermore, 80% of under 35s are planning to shop in the sales, dropping to 48% for over 35s, with our research showing the younger consumer group are much more inclined to do their sales shopping online in a further continuation of the Black Friday trend.

Then get to know them even better
Unsurprisingly, given last year’s chaotic scenes, the majority of operators took a more measured approach to Black Friday this year, starting sales earlier to smooth demand and reduce the impact on stores. More interestingly however, retailers have begun to seize the tactical CRM opportunities major online sales events present. For example, Amazon used Black Friday to sign up valuable Prime customers with a 25% discount on membership and early access to deals, and retailers such as Argos and Very emphasized customer data collection through incentivising email sign-ups in exchange for exclusive notice of sales.

With no sign of consumer appetite for festive discounts abating, retailers and brands should use the remaining holiday period to draw closer to customers through measured, relevant promotional activity. As ever, knowing your audience – their channel, category and sales day preferences – will be critical to positioning and planning for success, while the continued move online should allow retailers to simultaneously gather data that will enable savvier discounting throughout 2016.

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Sara Ghazi-Tabatabai

*Experian