Discount battle in partial lockdown: a special black friday

Discount battles on the internet and bargain hunting in the shopping aisles: in recent years, black friday has developed into one of the strongest sales days in the german retail sector.

But this year, everything could turn out quite differently. In the inner cities, the partial lockdown threatens to torpedo the fun of snap-hunting. And on the internet, too, the willingness to spend could be significantly lower this year than in the past due to the pandemic.

A recent survey by the business consulting firm simon-kucher& partners revealed that this year just half of consumers plan to go bargain hunting on black friday or the following cyber monday. A year ago, two-thirds of consumers had this in mind. And the planned shopping budget has also melted away in the corona crisis: on average, "only" 205 euros are earmarked for black friday shopping this year. A year ago it was 242 euros.

Even a survey by the price comparison portal idealo does not bode well for the discount day. According to the survey, two-thirds of consumers do not want to participate in black friday this year or at least spend less money than last year.

But not everyone is so pessimistic. The german retail association (HDE), for example, is expecting a new sales record of around 3.7 billion euros for black friday and cyber monday this year. That would be a plus of about 18 percent compared to the previous year.

In fact, many retailers are trying to attract customers this year even more than in the past. The starting signal for the snap hunt fell even earlier than usual. Amazon lures already since the end of october with "early black friday offers". The electronics chains saturn and media markt promised their customers an entire "black november" and zalando also presented reduced black friday offers on its homepage weeks before the actual date.

The fact is: the retailers in the city centers could really use a little extra hype from the discount day. Although fashion retailers, jewelry stores and bookstores were allowed to remain open even during the partial lockdown. But many customers have lost their appetite for shopping in view of the increase in the number of infections and the closure of restaurants and cafes.

Customer frequencies in the city centers have fallen dramatically again since the closure of restaurants and leisure facilities due to the corona crisis. The president of the textile trade association (BTE), steffen jost, has already complained: "at present, most stores are making a loss every day because sales do not even cover the costs incurred."

But black friday was allowed to do little about that. In the survey by simon-kucher& partners 57 percent of consumers said they would shop mainly or exclusively online. According to the survey, only 14 percent want to go into stores.

The discount days at the end of november in germany are traditionally dominated by online retailing. "This trend will become even stronger this year, when the discount campaign falls in the period of the corona-related partial lockdown," predicted pwc trading expert christian wulff. Because a shopping spree is much less attractive in view of the closed cafes and restaurants. In addition, the obligation to wear a mask and the fear of infection are spoiling the fun of hunting for snappers in the city centers.

"Everything that used to take place in stores on black friday in the form of non-price promotions – the special event flair, the glass of champagne – is unfortunately hardly possible this year," says simon kucher expert nina scharwenka.

But it’s certainly not a mistake for consumers to keep a cool head on snack day anyway. According to a price analysis by idealo, the average price saving on promotion day 2019 was just 8 percent. Although there were actually an above-average number of price reductions on black friday, not all of the special offers were actually as good as they appeared to be. Merchants often calculate their discounts on the basis of the recommended retail price (RRP) instead of using the actual market price as a reference value, which is often far below it, explained idealo expert michael stempin.

His recommendation: if you want to make real bargains, you should not focus on black friday, but observe the prices of the desired products over a longer period of time.