Each year, IMRG tracks online retailers’ Black Friday campaigns, looking at campaign start dates, daily revenue performance, and other unique performance indicators.

This year, IMRG has already noted a trend for early campaigning, with as many as 48 out of the 295 retailers surveyed going live three weeks out from Black Friday week itself. This number had steadily grown to 114+ live Black Friday campaigns just one week out, revealing that participation and competition is high.

Yet, if early campaigning was an attempt to boost performance, this has not proved successful for many retailers, says the online retail association. The results from its Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers across the UK, supported by anecdotal evidence from the IMRG retail community, has shown that the industry is in YoY decline – nearly 50% of 80 retailers polled on 16th November said their results that week so far were ‘below expectation’, while total online market performance in the first week of November was flat, at +0.5% YoY, and just one week later the industry experienced an average of -6.2% YoY.

Therefore, many retailers are under significant pressure to meet their targets this Black Friday week, says IMRG. These insights are in line with IMRG’s Black Friday Week (20-27th November) forecast, with expectations for declines across the total online market, as well as for key product categories such as clothing and gifts.

Home and garden sales were forecasted to deliver a flat growth rate of 0%.

The Black Friday week forecast was based on research into online revenue performance in recent times, as well as external factors such as the cost of living crisis. "Retailers are hopeful that customers have been awaiting the ‘big deals’ during Black Friday week itself after experiencing two weeks of poor performance, but we are yet to find out the true extent of the problem this week," states IMRG.

Andy Mulcahy, IMRG's strategy and insight director, says: “The signs so far in November have not been very positive, and it means there is a lot of ground to be made up if it is to be a successful trading month for retailers. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen – it may be that shoppers are going to concentrate their spend more fully on this week in 2023, and there will likely be some big deals available if demand is slow and they find themselves a bit overstocked. Many will be hoping that the upturn in demand arrives very soon.”