‘Black Friday’ delivers boost to festive season sales at Hughes

Robert Hughes.

Robert Hughes. - Credit: EDP pics � 2011(01603) 772434

East Anglia-based based electrical retailer Hughes has reported strong sales in the run-up to the festive season, helped by its “busiest day in history” on Black Friday.

The Lowestoft-based company took £1.1million on November 28, as shoppers in the region embraced the American tradition of holding a retail sale on the first Friday after Thanksgiving.

The haul helped the company to record a 9% rise in total sales, 6% growth in like-for-like sales in store, and a 29% increase in online sales in the six weeks up to the New Year.

Robert Hughes, managing director of the family-owned company, said the rise was partly fuelled by an upsurge in shoppers buying new TVs, with 57% of all its online orders coming through its click and collect service – a four-fold increase on last year.

Meanwhile, he also revealed that he expects the company to open its new store in the former Two Bears Hotel in Great Yarmouth in the early Summer.

Mr Hughes said: “Christmas is a very important period where most retailers make their serious money. But the customer is in a better position, with wage growth and inflation dropping.

“It shows that this Christmas they were prepared to spend money, which has made us our most optimistic since the recession.”

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Mr Hughes now expects the company, which employs 920 staff nationwide and is forecast to turnover £110m this year, to beat last year’s performance.

He added: “The television market grew for the first time since 2009 with customers upgrading to larger screen size with demonstrably better picture quality.

“Many of these customers were upgrading from early generation flat panel screens. Appliances sales were strong but are broadly replacement items so do not have a big seasonal trend.

“Laptops and tablets failed to match last years boom numbers as many people already own a tablet and some of this market was taken by the launch of the Playstation 4 and iPhone 6 earlier in the year.

“Wearable technology is small numbers but makes good headlines. Customers are increasingly event driven so shopped during the Cyber Weekend and the Boxing Day sales, but spent less in between.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hughes fears that some smaller online retailers may go bust in the coming months in the wake of the collapse of delivery service City Link.

Mr Hughes, who used City Link for 15% of the company’s orders, believes those who solely used service will find it difficult to cope with the costs of losing the firm.

Hughes has a total of more than 40 stores across the country, including 16 in Suffolk and north Essex at locations including Ipswich (two), Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Newmarket, Haverhill and Halesworth.