Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now widely recognised dates in the diaries of UK consumers, and they are also becoming two of the biggest days in the calendar for marketers and advertisers. The American retail phenomena known as Black Friday originated at the start of the new millennium and signifies the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. First adopted by UK retailers in 2003, Black Friday falls on the fourth Friday of November, which is the day after the US holiday of Thanksgiving.
Britons are expected to spend over £12,000 per second online on Black Friday this year, with total online sales in excess of £1 billion – up by a third on last year. The figure could reach £1.9 billion with the inclusion of physical sales, making per second sales almost £22,000. Cyber Monday, which follows Black Friday, is predicted to generate a further £943 million in online revenue.
What does Black Friday mean?
There is debate over the origin of the name, Black Friday. Many claim it was first used in Philadelphia as early as the 1950s to describe the disruption caused by excessive pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the day after Thanksgiving. A later explanation cites that traditionally retailers operated at a loss between January and November, or “in the red”, with Black Friday marking the point at which they began turning a profit, or running “in the black”. These days, Black Friday is known by most as a day, or longer period of time, during which retailers offer heavily discounted items for sale. While most types of product can be found in promotions, Black Friday deals have a tendency towards technology items like televisions and home appliances.
What is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is a more recent introduction and falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While Black Friday has a heavy focus on physical shopping, Cyber Monday was introduced by marketers to promote online shopping. The term was first coined by American businesswoman, Ellen Davis, in 2005, and was widely adopted in the UK by 2009. Cyber Monday is particularly suited to smaller businesses and tends to have a larger proportion of fashion retail deals compared to Black Friday. However, ‘a huge number of consumer electronics bargains are saved back for Cyber Monday’.
Black Friday Week
The four-day period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday is often called “Black Friday Weekend”. With such a surge in trade during the event, many retailers have extended their Black Friday promotions even further this year. For example, Amazon is offering a full week of “lightening deals” comprising new promotions every 10 minutes. For the first time, many Amazon Marketplace sellers are also involved in the event. This year has seen vast numbers of retailers, both on the high street and online, launch their Black Friday deals in advance, such as Argos with its “Red, White and Blue Fridays” campaign and Carphone Warehouse with its 10-day “Black Tag” event. The extended timeframe could well become a regular feature of Black Friday.
The importance of careful planning
Following chaotic scenes last year in stores such as Asda and Tesco, retailers have been forced to apply more rigorous planning to the 2015 Black Friday event. Despite being widely recognised for making Black Friday mainstream in the UK, Asda has this year declined to participate, instead offering customers deals throughout November and December. Tesco kept its promotions under tight wraps prior to the event, and closed 250 superstores between midnight and 5am on Black Friday to prepare. Tesco also invested in additional security and barriers following last year’s issues.
Since the first UK Black Friday event at Currys in Staples Corner, London in 2003, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have grown to be a major date in the calendar. All sizes of brand are able to take advantage of the increased numbers of consumers hunting for bargains. By adequately preparing for the event and offering customers excellent deals, brands will be able to enjoy their own slice of an estimated £2 billion spend. Advertisers can take inspiration from their peers on the best ways to attract consumers and organise the event. An opportunity too great to be missed – a golden opportunity in fact – Black Friday offers marketers the ultimate chance to showcase products and services to an audience eager to engage.