This year's Black Friday shopping period is expected to generate £6.77 billion for the UK online retail industry, according to research published today.

UK e-tail trade association IMRG, supported by SimilarWeb data, has made the sales prediction for the week-long period between Monday 21 November to Monday 28 November 2016, noting that the annual pre-Christmas shopping event continues to evolve in duration and scale as retailers grapple with it in different ways.

Other estimates include £1.27 billion will be spent on Black Friday itself, which is 16% up year on year, while some £3.45 billion is expected to be completed through smartphones and tablets as mobile commerce continues to grow in popularity. 

How does this year's Black Friday period compare to last year?

Total estimated spend for the four-day peak weekend in 2015 was £3.3 billion, although it is not a direct comparison in terms of timeframe as the peak period is set to shift this year.

Last year's Black Friday period sales were broken down, as follows: Black Friday, £1.1 billion; Saturday 28 November, £561 million; Sunday 29 November, £676 million; Monday 30 November, £968 million. 

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG, said: "Black Friday as an event has shown a remarkable capacity for evolving each year and it seems set to change further this year.

"How the spend is spread across the days of the week depends on two things. Firstly, while there is no consensus on campaign durations among retailers, some are likely to try launching theirs earlier in the Black Friday week this year to secure their share of spend and steal a march on their competitors (indeed, some major retailers have already launched theirs)."

He added: "The other key factor concerns how shoppers actually respond – how early will they be willing to start their Christmas shopping, will many just wait until the Black Friday day itself, will they respond quickly to campaigns, pulling order volumes forward from Black Friday and potentially creating new peak days in the process?

"These are the questions that will shape how this period evolves in 2016."

Last week Amazon announced it will be spreading its Black Friday deals over two weeks, while other retailers – such as Fat Face – have announced they are not even getting involved in Black Friday deals – and are not discounting outside of the traditional sales periods.

Patrick Munden, head of marketing & communications at global eCommerce consultancy Salmon, commented: "Black Friday is no longer about one single day, but closer to a week-long event; Amazon's plans to spread its sales over two weeks demonstrates that they are savvy to that fact and the opportunity it presents.

"Now it is an occasion to create an ongoing experience that can help grow a retailer's customer base and loyalty. At Salmon, we predict that Black Friday will indeed be spread out, with the main event happening over a five-day period with a spend of over £5 billion and that mobile will dominate online activity."

He added: "Even those retailers who do not want to participate in Black Friday need to prepare themselves; consumers will be in the mood to shop and so retailers are likely to see an increased uptake and conversion of sales even if they aren't offering deals and discounts."