LONDON: Black Friday has ruined this year’s Boxing Day and January sales, retail experts have warned, as a record amount of returned online orders means stock will be stuck in warehouses, potentially leaving shop shelves empty. As a result as many as one in five “this season” items will be absent in today’s store sales, returns firm Clear Returns has warned. For bricks and mortar shops it is another kick in the teeth by online stores, which took the majority of Black Friday trade this year. The level of stock currently “in transit” will hamper their profits by leaving them with less to sell today. A record £1bn of items are expected to be returned after this year’s Black Friday as online customers adopted a “buy now and decide later” attitude, instead of braving the high street. Last year some stores – mainly women’s fashion outlets – saw more than 60pc of online Black Friday sales returned within 30 days as online shoppers chose to adopt a “buy now and decide later” attitude, instead of braving stores. Clear Returns said that as it takes warehouses several days to process and prepare items for resale huge volumes of Black Friday returns would not make it back into shops in time. George Mensah, a retail expert at consumer analyst Shore Capital, said the volumes of online returns was a major concern for some retailers. He said: “Last year the disruption caused by having to deal with a high level of returned items in late December meant retailers struggled around Christmas time and this year it could be even worse.”
Peoplevox, a warehouse management company, said many major retailers’ warehouses were inefficient at dealing with high volumes of returns because they were using “ageing” software – and in some cases just paper and pens – to keep track of millions of parcels. Despite restricted availability of some items shoppers who are able to find the items they want may be glad they held out on Black Friday as discounts on many items are now far bigger. Britain’s biggest retailers are offering discounts of nearly 90pc, for example Debenhams is offering a ladies’ Alice & You black sequin dress reduced by 86 per cent, from £60 to £8. Meanwhile the Entertainer is cutting prices by up to 80 per cent, with up to 70 per cent off at M&S, H&M, New Look, Topshop and Asos, 60 per cent off at Argos and 50 per cent off at stores including Gap, Clarks, Miss Selfridge, River Island, MoneySavingExpert.com said. Shops are expected to be emptier than usual today with just a quarter of Britons (23 per cent) expected to take a trip to the Boxing Day sales, down from 32 per cent last year, according to Barclaycard. Shops are expected to be emptier than usual today with just a quarter of Britons (23 per cent) expected to take a trip to the Boxing Day sales, down from 32 per cent last year.