Black Friday: Retail smash or industry obstacle?

Black Friday: Retail smash or industry obstacle?

Gaming continues to prove a big hit with consumers, and as sales reports come in from various places following Black Friday (more of a week-long promotion than a day’s sale, and which includes ‘Cyber Monday’), it’s clear the industry did well.

Almost two million games were sold over the corresponding week - a nine percent increase on last year’s total. These sales resulted in an extra four percent in revenue for the industry, the total of which topped £58m.

It wasn’t just software that saw huge sales figures: during Black Friday week, the Playstation 4 console saw its best sales week since its launch three years ago.

How consumers shopped was also interesting. The majority of visits to gaming retailers’ websites were via a mobile device, and sales via this method exceeded $1bn for the first time. And despite Thanksgiving traditionally being a day spent celebrating with the family, the gaming industry enjoyed $2bn in sales revenue whilst consumers tucked into their turkey dinners.

Sales reports point to Pokemon’s Sun and Moon being the most popular game purchase, which almost reached the dizzy heights of Call of Duty’s opening weekend, and no doubt due to the popularity and hype Pokemon enjoyed in the summer with their Pokemon Go.

However, figures show that, in the weeks preceding the Black Friday event, gaming sales were down. Retail experts believe this could be due to the expectations from consumers of the spectacular deals seen during Black Friday week.

Some industry insiders believe the success of the annual event may see some game publishers rethinking their strategy for the last quarter of the year. Traditionally, new releases come onto the market at the back end of October, just in time to maximise Christmas sales - but if consumers defer purchase until Black Friday week, to take advantage of the huge discounts they’ll undoubtedly see, release schedules may change. Once a game is discounted, it’s difficult for a retailer to return to full price; consumers often expect the lower, reduced price to stand until Christmas, and possibly further.

And though mobile sales were up from last year, these weren’t necessarily representing extra revenue – footfall in physical stores was down, compared with figures from last year.

That said, there will be few retailers regretting taking part in the retail extravaganza. Black Friday sales of both hardware and software have added buoyancy to a continually changing retail market. Promotional items were carefully chosen and pushed forward to take advantage of the extra interest and spending from consumers. Given that game titles aren’t just competing with themselves, but also against every other way consumers spend their leisure time, the increase in revenue year on year is even more impressive.

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