black friday

With a month to go before Black Friday, Tesco has said it is planning to significantly ramp up the number of promotions in store and online, as it makes its most aggressive push into general merchandise since the era of Philip Clarke.

Tesco - which today launched a three for two offer on all its toys for the run-up to Christmas - was bullish about its plans for Black Friday, despite its system virtually grinding to a halt this time last year.

Tesco was forced to apologise to customers in 2015 as its deliveries buckled under the volume of orders from Black Friday and its ill-fated Clubcard Boost promotion, with deliveries delayed for up to nine days.

However, Tesco said this week it had ensured there was extra capacity at its distribution centres. Demand is expected to be heightened by the Argos price-matching scheme announced last week and its decision to launch free next-day click & collect across its entire Tesco Direct range, despite the introduction of new charges for GM online orders earlier this year.

“Black Friday last year was Tesco’s most successful and saw the busiest-ever day for Tesco Direct in terms of sales,” said a Tesco spokeswoman.

“This Black Friday, Tesco will be offering customers even more deals and broadening the product categories it offers promotions on, both in stores and online. We will manage online customer demand with increased fulfilment capacity at our distribution centres to ensure all of our customers receive their purchases in a timely manner. Free click & collect will continue to apply to Black Friday purchases.”

Tesco’s bestselling ranges on Black Friday last year included TVs, tablets, gaming consoles and small domestic appliances.

But it is in toys where it has made its most recent moves on promotions.

Its renewed assault on the £3.2bn British toy market comes despite figures from Mintel showing toys have dwindled in popularity as a Christmas purchase.

Its figures show that in 2010 the number of individuals who purchased toys and games as a Christmas gifts was 44%, In 2015 this figure was 39%.

However, John Mercer, senior analyst at Fung Global Retail & Technology, said the recent moves by Tesco showed GM, especially after Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos, was now very much back on Dave Lewis’s agenda.

“Tesco has built its recovery on food, and this has included its efforts over the last two Christmases, when it offered its high-profile price promotions on fruit & veg, for instance,” he said.

“General merchandise appears to have been on the backburner while it has been fixing its core offering, so this jump into price-matching on general merchandise and especially toys seems a little out of the left field. It suggests Tesco thinks the time is right to move beyond working on its core offering and venture back into general merchandise, which has not seen a major push since the Philip Clarke era.”