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Black Friday 2018: Deal or No Deal?

By Irene Bodega

As bargain-crazy shoppers hit the online stores, Black Friday sales trends begin to emerge. Our insights experts at Edge by Ascential take a look at the landscape across a range of categories. We can reveal early findings in pricing and promotional strategies for the UK’s most sought-after Christmas purchases including evidence of products being sold cheaper previously.

2017 seasonal sales grew faster in November than in December, and at the fastest rate in more than five years; a clear indication of how Black Friday is encouraging shoppers to make their Christmas purchases earlier.

This year, Black Friday is expected to generate sales of £10.4 billion, 3.1 percent more than 2017 (GlobalData). The weekend shopping frenzy is traditionally triggered by promotions in the Consumer Electronics category, however, this year, Toys and Games are likely to feature more prominently as retailers look to benefit from the collapse of Toys “R” Us.


Amazon starts to give more space to other brands

In recent years, Amazon has featured its own devices most prominently in the deal space, however, this year, it appears to have taken a more muted approach, allowing other brands a share of space.

Amazon devices still occupy the home page banner space. These ads promote deals on the Amazon Echo at £54.99, its lowest ever price, and the Fire TV Stick which, at £24.99, appears at the same price as it did on Prime Day 2018 and Black Friday last year.


Amazon website (9am GMT) – 23 November 2018


However, the top line of Amazon’s Black Friday deals features just three Amazon devices; Fitbit, Lego and Garmin occupy the remaining space.


Amazon website (9am) – 23 November 2018


Shoppers can still view the deals on Amazon devices by selecting the option from the ‘Departments’ menu. This displays 30 deals on Amazon devices which include Blink security cameras and Ring video doorbells, both of which have been acquired by Amazon in the last 12 months. However, the 3rd Generation Amazon Echo Dot is notable by its absence from this page. Amazon has been promoting this for £24.99 and it has been clearly visible as a deal to shoppers who visited the Amazon Echo page. It would appear that Amazon has mistakenly omitted it from the deals page.


Amazon website (9am GMT) – 23 November 2018


Rival Tactics: Amazon Vs. Google

Very promoted the 3rd Generation Echo Dot on its homepage at the same price listed on Amazon and will likely do well in share of sales as discerning shoppers look around for better deals.


Very website (9am GMT) – 23 November 2018


Argos, Currys and John Lewis have a different approach to challenge Amazon. All three appear to have partnered with Google as they each have specific promotions on their homepages which relate to deals on Google products. The competitive move is most obvious in relation to the Google Home Hub which each of them priced at £99, matching the Google store price.


Argos and Currys website (9am) – 23 November 2018


How deep were the cuts in Toys?

Like Amazon, Argos promotes a number of Black Friday Lego deals on its homepage. Of all the listings sitting behind the Lego banner on Amazon and Argos, there is only one product which overlaps. This is the ‘Lego Boost Creative Toolbox’, available for £82.49 from Amazon and for £109.99 from Argos; a significant difference which highlights the need for consumers to shop around.

Lego is also heavily promoted on the Smyths Toys’ homepage with a banner leading to no less than 31 ‘discounted’ products. We have reviewed their shelf price over the last 12 months and can report the ‘LEGO Ninjago Dieselnaut Tank Dragon Hunters Toy’, priced at £69.99 today, could have been purchased for £64.99 in mid-October and for £67.99 throughout August. Additionally, the ‘Air Hogs Thunder Trax’ was £10 cheaper between 27 October and 20 November when it was listed at £49.99.

It seems Black Friday toy deals are not all as good as they seem. There is further evidence of products being sold cheaper previously on the Entertainer website where the ‘Boxer Robot’, predicted to be one of the top toys this Christmas by Hamleys and the Toy Retailers Association, was £8 cheaper between 16 and 20 November this year.

These issues are not just confined to the Toy categories and retailers. We’ve found a number of examples in other categories and on other retail sites where Black Friday prices are not as good as they have been before.


When is a Deal Really a Deal?

Amazon prices the ‘De’Longhi ECAM 44.660B Coffee Maker’ at £419.99 – the lowest price it has been at for 12 months. This may be true, however shoppers would have been better off if they purchased the product last November when the price fell as low as £386.17.

On AO.com, The ‘Hoover DXC9TCG 9Kg Condenser Tumble Dryer’ was £20 cheaper in February 2018 than its Black Friday deal this year. Currys prices the ‘NESPRESSO by Krups Inissia XN100540 Coffee Machine’ at £59.99, however it was available for less than this for 10 weeks during the Summer, dropping as low as £44.00.


The predictions from watchdog organisations who warned Black Friday shoppers to be wary of misleading promotions came true. As a consumer, it is impossible to tell if a retailer will offer further discounts or whether Black Friday is the best time to make a purchase, but our research proves that it pays to shop around. As we have seen, a Black Friday discount from one retailer may not be quite as good as the Black Friday offer from another.

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