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Black Friday 2019: ‘Trading up’ delivers best sales yet

Black Friday was back with a vengeance in Great Britain in 2019. Compared to 2018, the most obvious trend this Black Friday was the rise in shoppers trading up to premium products.

Maximizing the advantageous timing - falling a week after pay day and a week closer to Christmas, retailers successfully encouraged consumers to trade up to aspirational brands by price promoting the most desirable items. With many retailers aggressively pushing their promotions weeks before Black Friday, market value was up 16.4%, volume up 8.7% and prices up 7.1% Year-on-Year (YoY). Sales online hit 47%, up from 41% YoY.

What performed best: Headphones, mobile phones and dental care 

One of the top selling categories was Headphones with sales up 89% YoY. Average prices increased from £57 in 2018 to £89 this year, a value growth of 54% YoY. Consumers traded up to premium features such as Bluetooth (+19%) and True Wireless (up 550% in value). Sales of mobile phones grew 17% as launches boosted the average price by 5%. Further proof of the premiumization trend was that the average sale price of premium electric toothbrushes increased by 10% YoY to deliver value growth of 22%.  

Black Friday didn’t turn on TV sales 

With the exception of the really large (60” and above screen sizes) which saw strong growth on Black Friday, TV sales have stagnated over the last year due to a lack of innovation. TVs enjoyed a significant growth in value during the event, driven by price drops on the premium products. For instance, TVs with a 51” – 60” saw a +8% growth in value but a fall of 22% in average sales price (ASP). For 61” – 70” screens, value rose +25% but ASP was down 29%, and for screens 71”+ above a growth of +20% in value was delivered by a 22% fall in ASP.

Products that performed well during Black Friday 2019

Products that performed well during Black Friday 2019




Price Change %





Growth YoY

Growth YoY

Price Change %

Price Change %

Headphones + Mobile Headsets





Media tablets





Vacuum cleaners





Dental care










Hair stylers





Source: GfK Point of Sales Tracking, Full Weekly Data, Channel Weekly Data + Weekly Leaderpanel. All data in GBP £. Black Friday YoY comparisons are week 47 2018 (18/11/2018 – 24/11/2018) vs. week 48 2019 (24/11/2019 - 30/11/2019)

Neil Frackiewicz at GfK, says:

“The clear trend in last month’s Black Friday results is a growth in the number of shoppers opting to buy premium products on offer.

"Rather than the ‘bargain basement’ event it began life as, Black Friday has become all about buying the must-have aspirational brands and latest high-end products in the technical and durables category. This has pushed up both the value and volume of sales compared to 2018.

"Consumers are increasingly using Black Friday as an opportunity to treat themselves, and there’s a noticeable a trend towards buying fewer quality items rather than many cheaper products on offer. This is exactly what retailers and manufacturers want if they are to make Black Friday work for them too – so it’s increasingly becoming a win-win sales event.”

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