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Black Friday is known as a big shopping event across the globe. In 2019, Black Friday sales generated a 33% turnover growth for technical consumer goods in Belgium. Retailers have put a lot of effort into their promotional activities during this year’s event, as well as bringing promotions forward in time. However, government restrictions that were put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic included store closures during November, which affected sales for many Belgian retailers. For the first time in years, Black Friday turnover is down compared with the previous year. Turnover figures for the 2020 Black Friday week came in at 126 million EUR, which is a drop of -8% versus 2019. Nonetheless, this still amounts to more than double the turnover generated in an average week in Belgium.
The new restrictions that came into effect on November 2nd made Black Friday 2020 one to remember. Due to the increased level of COVID-19 infections, the Belgian government had decided to close all non-essential stores. In contrast to the first wave of store closures in Belgium (March-May), retailers that were still allowed to open their stores could no longer sell products outside of their core assortment, in order to safeguard fair competition. Although many traditional stores were closed, they could still organize “Click & Collect” services, so consumers could collect their order at the store. Retailers had no other option but to facilitate online shopping, which led to an enormous increase for this channel. The overall online share of technical consumer goods during Black Friday 2020 was 81% - a sharp contrast compared to the 31% share that we registered last year. Despite this increase, online sales could not compensate for the closure of physical stores during this important week.
Leading into November and the new store closures, many retailers and manufacturers in the tech and durables industry brought promotions forward. A local “Bel Friday” initiative ran during the last weekend of October to assist local business owners and persuade consumers to support the Belgian economy. Not long after, more retailers started to offer their “Black Friday” promotions early, which led to a turnover increase of respectively 8% and 25% in the two weeks running up to Black Friday.
More than ever, it seems like COVID-19 has shifted consumer shopping behavior and demand during Black Friday, which caused some remarkable peaks in terms of category trends. Health and hygiene factors became more important when looking at products like air treatment and dental care, but the top performing product group, growing 100%, was hair clippers. Hair stylers took second place with a 93% growth. The continuing ”work at home” trend played an important role as well: monitor sales turnover shot up 84%, completing our Black Friday 2020 top 3. It is clear that IT and Office products continue to be in high demand as a lot of Belgian citizens continue to work or study from home.
The “eat at home” trend has also increased in popularity as restaurants and bars are currently closed. We already registered a huge increase in domestic appliances sales during the first wave of store closures in Belgium. During the Black Friday week, this trend continued with a turnover increase of 16% for deep fryers and 13% for food preparation. Our Consumer Life Study shows that 69% of consumers now cook for fun at least once a week.
The infographic below contains the main trends and lessons observed in Belgium during the Black Friday period.
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