Did Black Friday Kill Boxing Day Sales Forever? Experts say Christmas traditions may fade as previous purchases take hold
- Boxing Day sales may be a thing of the past in part thanks to Black Friday deals
- PwC consultants said the big day of sales has been on the decline for several years now
- Experts also said this year’s Boxing Day sales could be ‘particularly lackluster’.
Experts say it’s a Christmas tradition as old as decorating the tree or leaving mince pies for Santa — but Boxing Day sales may be a thing of the past.
An increase in the number of sales days held earlier in the year, and stores wanting to maintain profit margins and in short supply, will likely mean little returns for those looking for post-Christmas bargains this year.
PwC advisers said the big day of sales has been on the decline for a few years, and its numbers suggest 2021 will be “particularly lackluster,” thanks in part to US import growth on Black Friday.
Boxing Day sales at Selfridges in 2018, the year an estimated 27 million shoppers joined the frenzy on December 26, spending a record £3.71 billion.
The ongoing chaos in the supply chain has also led to a shortage of items that often feature heavily in discounts, such as furniture and electronics.
Big sellers, such as the latest PlayStation and Xbox game consoles, have been in short supply since their launch at the end of last year.
Stores already struggling to fill orders won’t be able to handle the extra demand of holding sales — plus, many have to deal with staff shortages.
At its peak, Boxing Day sales drew millions to high streets and malls – queues formed outside some of the biggest department stores before dawn.
As recently as 2018, an estimated 27 million shoppers joined the frenzy on December 26, spending a record £3.71 billion.
But in 2019 that dropped to £3.25 billion, and with stores closing across swathes of the country in 2020 amid Covid restrictions and lockdowns, the numbers are down even more.
Boxing Day sales handbag in 2016. At its peak of sales, Boxing Day sales attracted millions to the main streets and malls
The sale season has already been muted this year with fewer retailers offering pre-Christmas promotions than in the past.
With nearly a tenth of retailers showing sales in early December compared to the previous year, PwC expects that trend to reverse after Christmas.
Even those stores offering sales have had to post what would have been a one-day fortune over weeks due to concerns about Covid.
Harrods began sales of “Boxing Day” ten days earlier this year. The luxury store’s winter sale will continue into the new year to allow customers to spread out their shopping periods.
It will include offers of up to 50 percent on household and kitchen items, and discounts on clothing and beauty products.
Black Friday shoppers in London in 2019. PwC consultants said the big day of sales has been falling for several years, thanks in part to US import growth Black Friday
The most expensive piece on sale will be the men’s rose gold Breitling watch, which has been reduced from £18,220 to £14,576, 20 per cent off.
Boxing Day falls on a Sunday this year, and this has led to some retailers, such as Marks & Spencer, deciding to keep their doors closed to give employees time off.
Big names that have promised to continue the sales tradition include Next, Currys and Boots.
PwC, which tracks promotions for 200 online stores, said 72 percent of sellers offered Black Friday discounts this year, compared with 90 percent last year and 85 percent the year before.
The promotions offered were also smaller, with only 35 percent of retailers offering discounts over 50 percent, compared to 43 percent of retailers who did so last year.
Lisa Hooker, Head of Consumer Markets at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: ‘Continuing uncertainty over the Covid virus, challenges around Brexit and global border restrictions suggest that the current stockpile shortage will persist well into the next year.
In addition to manpower shortages and a supply chain still recovering from the pandemic, we are unlikely to see a return to frequent and heavy discounts anytime soon.
“Promotional activity is likely to follow the trends we’ve seen throughout the year but with fewer participants and fewer deals.”