How quick everyone was this time last week to proclaim Black Friday a black day for retail, either because the anticipated throngs of people failed to materialise early doors, or because they thought the US import would boost sales fleetingly but be followed by a sales slump.
A week on, the dust has not yet settled - some retailers have still to release their figures - but a clearer picture is beginning to emerge, and it is nowhere near as dark as some feared.
While BCSC/FootFall data shows footfall on Black Friday was down 4.05% in UK shopping centres and retail parks on last year (and 5.17% down over the weekend), some shopping centres patently did better than others - Intu claims its centres enjoyed a 30% increase. Moreover, research shared exclusively with Property Week by CACI shows in-store retail spend was actually up 1% on Black Friday, while click and collect spend was 7% higher and dwell time was up 3%.
In short, there may have been fewer shoppers and fewer places to shop, but those who did venture out spent more and stayed longer.
It is also important to remember that the more modest than expected sales were also partly down to the decision by some retailers not to participate, while others scaled back their involvement or spread their offers over the weekend or week. Driven partly by a desire to manage sales peaks and troughs more effectively, many also wanted to avoid the unseemly scrums of last year. Some shoppers will have stayed away for the same reason. Others will have got cold feet in the wake of the Paris attacks, of course. As we report in our special feature “After Paris”, landlords and retailers are doing what they can to counter the threat, but you can’t blame people for deciding to shop online from the comfort of their own homes rather than take any risk.
And boy, did they shop. Amazon, which is just about to sign for a new fulfilment centre in Bardon, Leicestershire, reported sales were up more than a third on last year to some 7.4 million items.
So does this mean sales are migrating online and that Black Friday might as well - or even be replaced by Cyber Monday and its weekend/weekly spin-offs? Possibly, given the 36% hike in online sales to £1.1bn reported by Experian-IMRG and success of Cyber Monday.
But we could see in-store sales bounce back. There are already signs retailers were more prepared for Black Friday this year; ditto shoppers. More importantly, most retailers are omnichannel these days. Online-only retailers, on the other hand, are reliant entirely on that one channel and their systems and supply chains being able to cope with demand, which as we all know, they can’t always.
My guess is that the neat juxtaposition of the primarily in-store Black Friday and online Cyber Monday will prove compelling enough to ensure the first simply continues to evolve and merge with the second - and that we’ll go back to Black Friday next year.