Fortnum & Mason predicted to be the big Black Friday online winner, with John Lewis slipping

Fortnum & Mason has been predicted to see a 58% increase in UK search volumes for Black Friday 2021, more than any other department store, according to new data.

The data also predicts online searches for John Lewis will drop 10% - the only major department store chain to see a fall in traffic.

The analysis was carried out by search expert MediaVision, using the proprietary Digital Demand Tracker tool that analyses search data from AdWords and Google Trends.

It used a combination of machine learning and data science to extrapolate likely search terms, volumes and trends for the period 1 Nov-5 Dec 2021, based on the past four months of online searches as well as Black Friday search patterns over the past three years. It found that searches for the term ‘Black Friday’ are already up by 11% compared to 2020.

Among department store brands that see fewer than 50,000 searches per month on average, Black Friday 2021 is forecast to see a surge in online activity:

  PREDICTED SEARCH INCREASE
1. Fortnum & Mason 58.3%
2. Fenwicks 36.7%
3. Harrods 22.0%
4. Harvey Nichols 8.5%
5. Liberty 3.9%

With the exception of John Lewis, department store brands with more than 50,000 searches a month on average are also predicted to see those volumes rise: House of Fraser by 5% and Selfridges by 14%.

These predictions should be seen in the context of the explosion in online activity during the pandemic. In the UK alone, 51,379 new e-commerce businesses launched between 1 April 2020 and 31st July 2021.

However, growth cannot be counted on across all parts of retail, and some of the most prominent players in online retail are predicted to see a decline in Black Friday demand this year: Amazon is predicted to see search volumes fall by 19% and Argos by 23.4%. Potential reasons include a more competitive and saturated market, shopper hesitancy, complexities around product availability, the delivery driver drought and logistical issues.

There is also growing sentiment among shoppers to support local and smaller online retailers post-pandemic, with a big focus on sustainability, reduced packaging and buying from independents.

Louis Venter, CEO at MediaVision, comments: “Sheer variety usually sees demand surge at department stores during Black Friday. This year is no different, with virtually every brand predicted to see an uplift.

“Fortnum & Mason opened its beloved annual Christmas Shop in mid-September and demand is high for upcoming events and workshops. That puts the brand front of mind for the official kick-off of the festive shopping season. Big player Fenwicks is also on track for growth, partly due to its highly successful migration to digital in 2020.

“Meanwhile, Selfridges is set to benefit from its partnership with Jaden Smith, its foray into the wedding business and the launch of the sustainability initiative Project Earth.

“The only brand forecasted to see a decline in search volumes is John Lewis. It began investing in a digital-first strategy in 2020 and has outlined a five-year plan to rebalance its bricks and mortar vs. e-commerce offering, so it’s likely we could see better brand search results as its digital footprint matures.”

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