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Early discounting typifies online retail as outlets struggle to boost sales

22 November 2018 - 11:38 by Graham Miller

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A report published by IMRG this week suggests that while Black Friday will provide sites that offer safe shopping online with a much needed increase in sales, the general outlook for the industry is not as strong as some analysts had expected.

In particular the fact that m-commerce activity rose by 17.2 per cent in October this year, representing a steep dip when set alongside the 53 per cent growth experienced during the same period in 2017, is being portrayed as worrying by insiders.

Experts point to the trend for price cuts being rolled out well ahead of the traditional festive shopping season as evidence of the underlying instability that afflicts the market at the moment. This implies that courting customers is getting harder and so e-commerce sites are being forced to rely on promotional tactics to get shoppers through the digital door.

Report spokesperson Andy Mulcahy said that some retailers are effectively trapped in a feedback loop of discounting, forced to keep cutting prices and creating promotions or else face up to the prospect that sales will suffer each quarter.

This leads some to question whether Black Friday will even be able to generate the kind of interest as it has in the past, since consumers may be fatigued by flash sales already by this point and the early bird offers are soaking up a lot of potential spending.

It seems that a lot of consumers are being more cautious with their cash at the moment, with the ongoing issue of Brexit posing a threat to e-commerce growth even before the deadline has been reached.

Billions will still be spent to prepare for Christmas this year, but there is an air of uncertainty hanging over the retail market which may take months to lift.