Black Friday. Sounds like a horror movie, right? Cyber Monday. A futuristic sci-fi film? Wrong. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are very real and very of the now. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’re likely to have at least heard something about them in the past week.
America’s Black Friday phenomenon hit UK shores this year with force akin to that of our latest import from the Atlantic, Hurricane Gonzalo. It brought a tidal wave of discount deals, floods of shoppers and of course the ensuing media storm. One poor lady even took a falling flat screen TV to the head in the midst of the mayhem.
In the previous two years Black Friday has begun to enter the consciousness of the British public via the magic of social media and this year we decided we were going to give it our best shot yet. Stores such as Asda were the main outlets for major price cuts who are, of course, owned by controversial American discount giants Wal-Mart.
Still in the dark about Black Friday? It came to prominence in the United States in the early 1900’s on the Friday following the Thanks Giving holiday (the fourth Thursday in November) where the major retailers open their doors in the early hours of the morning and offer seemingly unmissable promotional sales. Since the early 2000’s it has become the unofficial mark of the start of the Christmas shopping season in the USA.
This year, Black Friday saw Amazon eclipse last year’s record breaking Cyber Monday item purchases by a distance. 5.5 million items sold on Black Friday 2014 to 4.1 million sold on 2013’s Cyber Monday. In the USA alone, $50.9 billion was spent over the Black Friday weekend.
In the aftermath of Friday, customers who flocked to retailers, filled their boots and fought for their 50% discounts, have taken to e-commerce platforms, such as eBay, to offload their fancy flat screens at inflated prices in an attempt to ‘make a fast buck’.
After Black Friday’s commercial success, Cyber Monday kicked-off at 12:00 AM, giving retailers another chance to offer consumers discount deals – the online equivalent of Black Friday. Amazon, high street retailers and other online stores, such as ASOS, getting in on the act with some websites even crashing under the pressure of their own traffic.
Cyber Monday sales are expected to increase 26% on last Christmas and next week’s “Manic Monday” will likely see online sales explode again, with retailers offering further discounts leading experts to predict a £676.5 million worth of sales (£470,000 per minute) in one day.
In recent years e-commerce has risen dramatically with consumers opting to buy online rather than in-store. At this time of year, more people are choosing to avoid battling the busy crowds of stressed shoppers and screaming kids, who wish to be anywhere else than packed out shopping centres, and who can blame them.
Online sales offer the perfect chance for organised, savvy shoppers to get their Christmas shopping done early and efficiently from the comfort of their own home. The increased capabilities of personal devices and responsive web design means consumers can make purchases on the go with tablets and even their mobile phones. With this in mind it’s easy to see why retailers are capitalising on it.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday proved, once again, the power of social media and online retail in a modern consumer market.
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