Featured Oct 30, 2019 6 min read

The 13 products to avoid discounting this Black Friday…and the 9 to slash!

With only one month until Black Friday, we breakdown the biggest trends from last year and lay out what retailers should (and shouldn’t) be marking down.

Black Friday Trends

You've spent months feverishly working to lock and load your discount strategy for Black Friday. However, there is still time for last-minute tweaks to save your margins from any unnecessary damage. We breakdown the biggest Black Friday trends to come out of last year and layout what retailers should (and shouldn’t) be marking down.

Right now, you should be making sure any items such as recent hot sellers (sheer puff sleeves, we're looking at you) aren't lined up for 60% reductions over Black Friday weekend, as well as monitoring the shifts your competitors are making.

The success of the first 2-day Amazon Prime event and the ever-growing environmental concerns associated with massive sales periods adds to the uncertainty surrounding the state of Black Friday.

Earlier in the year, we recapped Black Friday 2018 and unveiled all the data you'd need to help plan for this year. This week, we unpack the current market to see early indications of how 2019 should fare.

What data is telling us about the US Market

In October, there are 2% less products discounted for the first time compared to the same time in 2018. The market is still recovering from a discount-laden Q3 driven by mid-season sales and Amazon Prime offers, causing first reductions to spike 16% compared to Q3 2018.

black friday trends

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For the key takeaways from Black Friday 2018, click here to download our analyst reports.

Additionally, new product arrivals have decreased by 14% over the past 6 weeks compared to the previous as retailers pull back on deliveries to make way for impending markdowns, which resulted in a 4% uptick in sell outs.

And the UK

Meanwhile in the UK mass market, which has been slower to join the Black Friday hype, there is 5% more products available now than last October, but new arrivals are flat YoY. 

The UK is approaching Black Friday discounts with a lot more caution this year. The number of products receiving their first markdown in October is down 26% YoY. However, the amount of products experiencing sell out is down too, by 33% to be exact. This drop suggests the UK customer isn't as willing to purchase full price during this month, knowing the big savings are just around the corner.

Strategize to avoid returns

Analyzing your competitor's assortment breakdown can help reveal the categories with the potential for reduction over the holidays. In the US mass market, accessories make up 29% of items currently available online, and last year were responsible for 23% of discounts. Products without a wide size range (such as handbags, jewelry, scarves, gloves and hair accessories) that sit under this umbrella are ideal for reducing to minimize returns during the sale period. 

black friday trends

With return rates estimated to cost ecommerce businesses $550 billion by 2020, retailers are pulling back on their categories with more complicated sizing as sales approach. Currently, there are 18% and 14% fewer footwear and bottoms products available compared to last year, respectively.

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How much to reduce by?

So far in the US this October, the most popular first discount advertised is 20-30% off, representing 28% of discounted mens and womenswear products. This discounting bracket is on par with last October. However, the 40-50% and 50-60% range is stronger this year, making up 21% and 11% of first discounts (compared to 17% and 7% in 2018), respectively. Showcasing how retailers are discounting deeper, earlier. 

Retailers are currently moving away from the smaller percentages, with the number of products in the 10-20% threshold halved compared to last year. Our advice is to pay attention to the products which don't need a huge price drop to sell through. According to EDITED data on Black Friday 2018, items with a discount under 30% had just as many sellouts as those between 40-60%, proving retailers don't need to destroy margins to shift stock. 

Remember, Black Friday is an opportunity to clear older pieces ahead of the peak Christmas period and ring in the new year with a fresh assortment. We can already see rapid sell out (and not just for sneakers!), at full price on these products…

Avoid reducing

Menswear

  • Mustard yellow
  • Hoodies
  • Corduroy
  • Checked trousers
  • Velvet blazers
  • Roll/turtle neck sweaters
  • Textured knitwear

Womenswear

  • Animal print
  • Printed midi and modest dresses
  • Oversized tees and hoodies
  • Puff sleeves
  • Cardigans
  • Puffer jackets
  • Leather

However, the list below shows items that have already been discounted by more than 20%, after arriving at retailers at the start of September.

Prime for reduction

Menswear

  • Chinos - The casual style made up 40% of reduced trousers in the US market alone. 
  • Oxford loafers - as workwear becomes relaxed, sneakers have become the footwear of choice in the office. 
  • Anoraks - It's time for outerwear to shine; however, the anorak has fallen out of favor, particularly in the UK market. Arrivals in this region have significantly dropped in favor of fleece or trucker jackets.
  • Neon: in both regions combined, neon menswear arrivals declined 19% MoM as the cold weather kicked in. 

Womenswear

  • One-shoulder dresses - In Q3, arrivals in this silhouette dropped 64% in the US compared to Q2 as puff sleeves and square necks held court.
  • Pencil skirts - Another traditional workwear style to think about phasing out. Midi and pleated styles are stronger trends.  
  • Cami tops - This style has seen a drop within the UK market in particular, where 70% of options are currently reduced.
  • Bodycon/bandage dresses - Thanks to the new wave of feminism, wider silhouettes continue to trend on the runway and in retail, while the bodycon continues to decline.  
  • Sandals - Making up 30% of footwear styles reduced over 20% in the US market. Use this holiday as an opportunity to churn through old summer stock.

Early Black Friday communications

In 2018 we saw retailers promoting Black Friday earlier than ever. Customers were enticed with pre-Black Friday offers, or advertising a countdown to build hype for the event. Kohl's and Old Navy were the first retailers off the mark to start promoting with email communications at the end of October. This year, Yours Clothing and boohoo have already teased Black Friday "coming soon" deals, pushing customers to sign up for exclusive offers. 

black friday trends
Boohoo UK

There’s no replacement for hard data when you’re tackling your trickiest discounting decisions. Get in touch here to learn how EDITED can help engage customers without sacrificing margins during peak sale periods.

For the key takeaways from Black Friday 2018, click here to download our analyst reports