Everyone likes a bargain, so it’s no surprise that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have seen a surge in popularity in recent years.
What started out in 1950’s America as a way to celebrate the start of the festive season, Black Friday has now become a global phenomenon. Advances in e-commerce and international media channels have facilitated an increase in awareness, particularly in western counties such as the UK and Canada. Many other European countries are also beginning to embrace the idea with various big-name companies in France, Scandinavia, Netherlands and Germany creating deals that are just too good to miss.
It’s not just the western world that has jumped on board either: countries such as India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will also offer big discounts, particularly on technology. China has also taken to the occasion, creating its own dedicated shopping day – Singles Day – on November 11th. China takes trade and commerce very seriously, so many Chinese businesses view Singles Day as the most important day of the year as it’s a great way to give their profits a major boost.
Did you know?
- Traditionally, Black Friday was intended as a one-day sale in retail stores, but as technology advanced and online shopping became popular, the sale would then move online over the following weekend – ending with the aptly named Cyber Monday.
- 2016 was the first year in Black Friday online shopping history where more mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones were used to make purchases than any other device, accounting for 51% of sales overall. This is a significant marker which illustrates exactly what direction online shopping and internet use is taking as a whole.
- As the majority of online shoppers are tech savvy and want the absolute best deal available, it’s not surprising to hear that more than 90% of users will compare prices before buying. Transparency when buying is important.
- It’s not just physical goods that are discounted either. In 2016, bagging a cheap travel deal was a focus for many; holiday sales increased by a whopping 21% over Black Friday weekend.
Here we’re going to take a look at what’s been happening around the world as well as what we can expect to see this year:
The birthplace of Black Friday, the USA is synonymous with huge sales and massive discounts that people aren’t afraid to fight over in the hope of making a saving. As an ongoing tradition, it’s taken very seriously and many states observe it as an official public holiday which is tied into Thanksgiving the Thursday before. Nowadays, some businesses will start their sales on Thanksgiving to get ahead of the game, stretching the sales period even further.
With that in mind, the average saving to be had across the weekend is 37%, a figure that’s expected to rise as competition becomes more fierce. Making an offer that’s difficult to refuse does seem to pay off though, with the average spend reaching a staggering $935 in 2016, up $35 on the previous year. 2017 is expected to see a similar increase, reaching an estimated $967 overall.
But who’s spending all this money?…
Last year, 154 million Americans shopped on Black Friday and 108 million of those did so online, providing further evidence that internet shopping is king. What may not surprise you is that a huge portion were aged 18-34. Of all the generations, millennials accounted for 62% of shoppers, adding proof to the claim that they have one of the larger disposable incomes. On the other hand, what may surprise you is that men are more likely to make a purchase than women! This year, 58% of men are planning to spend, compared to 53% of women. It turns out that men are much more willing to wait for a deal, especially on tech.
Black Friday is quickly becoming a big deal in the UK. Before being introduced by Amazon in 2010, Boxing Day was the biggest shopping day of the year, traditionally followed by the January sales. It seems that the UK aren’t quite as willing to make heavy price cuts though, the average being just 9%; again this is expected to rise as popularity builds.
There’s a heavy focus on gadgets and electronics in the UK and last year saw John Lewis take the crown for the highest number of tech sales, beating out global players Apple and Amazon who were in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Much like the USA, online shopping is a huge deal and in 2016 there were 13.6 million interactions relating to Black Friday on social media. There was also a 7% decrease in retail store sales backing up the need for an online presence. It seems that UK shoppers like to get in there early too. Discount code website Vouchercloud saw an incredible 208% increase in traffic to their website from 5am on the day itself.
So what’s to be expected in 2017? Well, as Black Friday’s popularity grows, so does the time frame in which it’s “celebrated”. In a bid to maintain a certain level of calm, sales are expected to be spread across a longer period of time with retailers opting for longer campaigns across Black Friday and Cyber Monday, featuring new deals each day. It’s expected to last for around 5 days overall and has been dubbed “Black Fiveday”. It’s estimated that over £7 billion will be spent online, a positive increase on last year’s £6.7 billion estimate. However actual spend last year didn’t quite reach target, settling at around £6.4 billion, will we see the same happen again this year?
To a slightly lesser extent than their neighbour, Canadians are pretty serious about Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but Canadians do use it as an opportunity to get started on their Christmas shopping with 6.4 million taking it as a holiday. A further 1.2 million will call in “sick” in a bid to get the best deals!
Crossing the border into the USA is quite common for bulk shopping, especially if there is a deal to be had. As result, it can be extremely lucrative for American companies that are situated on the border, despite seeing a decline in recent years due to poor exchange rates. These companies will do all they can to gain business and will often build campaigns specifically targeted at Canadians to entice them over.
That doesn’t mean Black Friday is a winner for everyone though, with an average of 30% saying that better deals can be found on Boxing Day.
2016 saw clothing purchases soar in Canada, accounting for 52% of all Black Friday sales, with tech following closely behind at 44%. Many of these sales were online too, where 24% of orders placed were on a mobile device. This is, however, expected to rise to 40% in 2017, bringing it more in-line with the overall average.
Still a relatively new concept for Denmark, Black Friday is however growing at an impressive rate. Awareness is spreading year on year; in 2016 52% of Danish internet users said they knew about it and, as 2017 progresses, 78% now claim to know what it’s all about. The same can’t be said for Cyber Monday though, only 6% of people were familiar with the online shopping day last year. This isn’t surprising to hear, considering only 31% of Black Friday sales were made online in 2016. This is, however, expected to rise as popularity grows and, much like the USA, the biggest portion of shoppers were aged 18-25, accounting for 49% of the sales.
Danish shoppers like to see big discounts too it seems, with the average discount last year increasing by 4% from 2015 to 36%. It’s not surprising that 39% are estimated to use Black Friday as an opportunity to buy Christmas presents if costs can be cut so dramatically!
Not quite Black Friday but Mexicans do still have a dedicated day for bargain hunting; it’s colloquially known as El Buen Fin and literally means “The Good End”. El Buen Fin is seen as an important day economically as the Mexican government will offer tax breaks to businesses that participate and it’s not uncommon for bonuses to be issued to employees to encourage shopping.
Much like in other countries, Mexicans will use the opportunity to get some of their Christmas shopping sorted: a huge 81% of items purchased in 2016 were intended as presents for others. Mexicans are, however, more impulsive and are less likely to plan what they want to buy: on average 25% of purchased are bought on impulse. Clothing seems to be top of the shops in Mexico too, accounting for 24% in sales. This number is likely to increase in 2017 as is overall spend, it’s expected that $5.2 billion will be spent, up 11% on last year.
China also has its own version of Black Friday. It’s called Singles Day and is always on November 11th. Singles Day was created as a sort of anti-Valentine’s day, celebrating all the single people out there (hence the 11/11 date). Over the years, Singles Day has snowballed and is now the busiest shopping day of the year for Chinese businesses. It seems that shoppers are keen to buy at every opportunity with a massive 82% of purchases made on mobile devices, way above the overall average. 75% of these purchases were made by buyers under the age of 35, reiterating the idea that these sales are dominated by a particular generation.
The biggest player is online marketplace Alibaba.com. Within the first 18 hours of Singles Day last year, they saw an incredible $15 billion worth of sales. This shows just how serious Chinese people are about getting a bargain. However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the number of overall sales… a seriously impressive $1 billion was spent within the first 5 minutes of Singles Day! This is only set to increase too with 140,000 brands expected to take part in 2017, including 60,000 international brands. This is 100,000 more than last year!
Black Friday is also taken very seriously in Brazil too. Many industries and businesses will use this as an opportunity to promote their wares; these could be anything from clothing to real estate to bank loans. Much like Mexico, the Brazilian government will offer tax breaks to businesses, especially those that offer credit card or payment plans, this works well for the average shopper with 80% preferring to use these methods over cash.
Last year Google saw a 65% increase in searches over the weekend. The fact that more shoppers are turning to the internet to find a bargain means that the number of first time shoppers is increasing year on year. Brazilians do however go against the grain in terms of what it is they’re buying; the biggest seller in 2016 was tech which accounted for 34% of the sales, and this was followed by appliances at 28%. This isn’t expected to change, however the predicted average transaction value will increase to $362, up 7% from the previous year.
Other countries where Black Friday has seen a boost in popularity include:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Did you know?
- In the United Arab Emirates, Black Friday is known as White Friday.
- In South America, Cyber Monday is more popular than Black Friday – especially in Argentina and Chile.
Best Selling Toys 2016
- Electric scooters
- Nerf guns
- Barbie Dreamhouse
Predicted best seller for 2017: Nintendo Switch
Best Selling Tech 2016
- Samsung 4K TV’s
- Smart Watches
- LG TV’s
Predicted best seller for 2017: iPhone 8
Tips to Help You Sell on Black Friday
- Start promotions early. Don’t get washed away by the tide
- Include your website on as many deal sites as possible, referral traffic is important
- Give yourself two marketing budgets, one for pre-promotion and one for Black Friday itself
- Expand your reach to an international audience – they’re shopping too!
- Don’t forget to translate if needed
- Offer deals that are too good to miss, sadly 10% off doesn’t cut it in most markets
- Use social media. Hashtags such as #blackfriday on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can increase visibility by up to 200%!
- Use countdowns and calls to action to encourage quick decisions
Whichever part of the world you’re from or selling your products to over Black Friday Weekend – knowing what’s hot and what’s not is the key to success!