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West End gears up for £100m Black Friday, despite some being unprepared

3 min read

25 November 2015

Retailers in London's West End are expecting to do over £200m of business in the last weekend of November – £96m of which it is anticipated will take place on Black Friday.

November 27 is set to be the most successful trading day so far in 2015 – with shops offering discounts, deals and promotions to increase sales.

It marks the start of what is usually the area’s busiest trading period and is this year expected to be the most successful Christmas shopping season for retailers since 2007. Businesses around Oxford Circus are gearing up for a 30 per cent increase in customers in the six weeks leading up to Christmas day.

Shoppers’ enthusiasm for the shopping event has ballooned in the UK since Walmart-owned Asda began marketing it in 2013 – although the store itself will not be taking part on Friday, after trouble with rowdy customers last year.

This year it is hoped that spending in response to discounts will bolster sales following the slowest growth in retail sales this year in November. Recent figures released from the CBI revealed that volumes were down seven per cent compared to the same month last year.

Commenting on sellers’ preparations for the event – which last year saw 50 ft queues form outside shops on Oxford Street – Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, pointed to the 4,500 seasonal staff that stores have taken on “to ensure savvy shoppers enjoy a combination of savings and exemplary service.” These temporary workers will bolster the area’s year-round workforce of some 65,000.

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But Julien Hervouët, founder of customer service start-up iAdvize, warned that some businesses are “unprepared to offer effective customer care” and will lose out on sales as a result. “Long queues and overcrowded stores are no one’s idea of a great shopping experience,” he added.

Consumers are also set to flock online on Friday to secure savings – UK online retail sales on the day are expected to exceed £1bn for the first time, according to research by Experian and IMRG. Amazon is expecting its Marketplace sellers to face record-breaking seasonal demand as more participate in Black Friday deals.

Last year, the sites of major retailers including Tesco, John Lewis, and Argos suffered crashes due to increased demand and James Miller, a senior retail consultant at Experian, warned sellers this week that they would need to be “carefully prepared” to be able to fulfil customer orders – despite the anticipated strain on delivery networks at the end of the month.