It has not been a thing for very long but today - the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday and the Black Friday retail sales event which follows - is known as Cyber Monday. Irish shoppers are expected to spend around €50m in search of online bargains, on top of millions more spent in bricks and mortar outlets since Friday.
Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland, said that while it is early days and hard data is difficult to come by so early, Retail Ireland's members are saying that generally sales have been in line with expectations. Those expectations had pencilled in slight growth on last year. But he added that some members are reporting a record performance, particularly in their online presence and online stores.
The whole Black Friday-Cyber Monday event is becoming a bit of a challenge for Irish retailers, according to Thomas Burke. While Black Friday started out as a one day event, he said that it has now morphed and elongated into an entire weekend and in some cases into a week-long or fortnight event. He said that brings its own challenges in what should be the busiest period of the year for retailers here as retailers are having to deeply discount their lines and ranges. He pointed out that sales in December last year actually fell when compared to November and there is a concern that will happen again this year. But that said, Black Friday is a positive event as it gets consumers out and about, it gets them shopping and it kicks off the key Christmas shopping period, he added.
Thomas Burke said the online side of the big shopping event can present a challenge for some Irish retailers as their online presence is not as strong as it should be. While heading for a record online sales period in 2017, with online sales set to top €16 billion, Mr Burke pointed out that 75% of online trade is done on websites out of Ireland.
On the prospect of a Christmas election, Mr Burke said that retailers would not like to see such a scenario. He said that uncertainty is the enemy of the economy and retailers in general and any sense of uncertainty from Irish consumers will be felt first at the tills.
MORNING BRIEFS - Swiss-Irish baked goods group Aryzta has reported a 5.5% drop in revenue to €909.7m for the three months to the end of October driven by continuing problems in the US. The company, listed in both Dublin and Zurich, saw a 7% fall in North American revenue. It said this was entirely due to problems at US subsidiary Cloverhill. The Illinois based bakery is a major supplier to a number of popular brands. It has been losing business after a decision to begin shipping its own products to retailers in direct competition with its customers. In its trading update, Aryzta said progress is proving difficult at Cloverhill, which was also found to have been using hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers at its factories in a federal audit last year.
*** Datalex, the Dublin-listed software company whose technology helps airlines make more money from online retail, expects its full-year earnings to be somewhere between 15% and 20% ahead of last year. In a trading update, the company said a deployment of its technology at German airline Lufthansa, one of its biggest ever contracts, is on track to begin delivering revenue in 2018. Datalex said its pipeline of new business is strong and it expects to sign a number of new customers in the coming months.
*** Time Inc, the publisher of magazines including Time, People and Sports Illustrated, has been sold in $2.8 billion deal. The 94 year-old publisher has been acquired by rival publisher Meredith Corporation, whose titles include Better Homes & Gardens. Meredith was backed in the transaction by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who kicked $650m into the deal through their private equity firm.