Cyber Monday had been predicted to wipe the floor with Black Friday’s falling sales by hitting record online purchases, but was overwhelmed by the estimated spend of £810 million on November’s Black Friday, the start of pay day weekend.
Retail experts IMRG have reported a £810 million spend by British shoppers over the popular US import ‘Black Friday’, and Experian’s data has predicted that the online spend will reach £650 million pounds for December 1st, dubbed ‘Cyber Monday’, making this the busiest period for online shopping.
Retailers have focused efforts on the 3-day festive sales deals which include Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday, but are people more inclined to go online or in-store?
Due to risks of being trampled mid-shop or encountering aggressive shoppers, as seen in several Tesco stores where three men were arrested and a woman was hit by a falling television, customers could be steered away from Black Friday and towards shopping in the comfort of their own homes on Cyber Monday. The online shopping day is not without its flaws, however, which include online queues reaching over an hour just to browse the site and websites crashing due to an overwhelming number of site visitors.
The festive sales weekend brought retail success to online giant Amazon, who claims to have had its busiest day ever recorded at the close of 2014’s Black Friday. The company said the sales of over 5.5 million items, selling at a rate of 64 items per second, “surpassed all expectations,” and efforts to advertise their company’s efficiency in handling the surge of sales has involved a video release of an inside look at Amazon’s robots. Last year’s 4 million item sales achievement was a record day in itself for Amazon, and this year’s sales overtook the 2013 numbers by 1.5 million items. Xavier Garambois, Amazon’s vice president of EU retail, stated, “ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year on year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations”
“The public’s appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar.”
State-side brought about a different story, however, according to the National Retail Federation. The Washington-based organisation claimed that Black Friday sales dropped an estimated 11% from the previous year. This slump in sales and lack of the notorious Black Friday frenzy could be attributed to the number of retailers who have stretched out their sales over multiple days and chosen to start offering discounts earlier. Similarly for Cyber Monday, the NRF claims that, down from the 131 million who planned to shop online on Cyber Monday 2013, 126 million shoppers are planning to take part in the online sales event this year.
Despite the expected drop in interest, the increase in online delivery services and ‘click-and-collect’ options have made Cyber Monday more popular than ever, with Giles Longhurst, Experian’s general manager for consumer insight, notifying brands that they “should also be looking to make sure they can offer home delivery as late as possible in the lead up to Christmas.”
Cyber success may not reach the expected heights, however. In the British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey, retailers saw a 15% increase in e-crime from 2012-2013. Distrust in retailers and doubts over cyber security pose a threat to Monday’s sales, as customers become more wary of submitting their account details online.
For many people, Black Friday coincides with the last working day of the month; ‘pay day’, which is also credited for the success of sales. Widely held as an optimum time for retailers to make profits, business industry professionals have also been sceptical of its benefits. Retail analyst Nick Bubb expressed, “all Black Friday is likely to do is bring forward business from December, reduce gross margins and undermine consumer’s willingness to pay full-price again before Christmas.”
Said to have been labelled as such since the 1960s in the United States, Black Friday marks the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a day off of work and school for most. The origins of its name are debated; the term could have been coined either describe the mayhem which ensued following Thanksgiving, when people clogged the streets with traffic and rushed to stores for discount goods, or to signify retailers making money from deals which paid off their debts and took them from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’.
The significantly younger sales phenomenon takes place online on the Monday following Black Friday and features slashed prices on Christmas gift purchases and varied goods, mostly of the electrical variety. Televisions, tablet computers, game consoles, coffee machines and cameras all see discount prices reaching 70% off the RRP.
Sofa Sunday is the next in the line of obsessive festive shopping days. Popular with tablet-consumers, it is a day set aside to shop for the latest deals and offers online using your tablet device or smartphone from home or, specifically, the sofa.