Black Friday and Christmas Shopping Trends

As retailers gear up for the biggest Christmas period yet, we ask exactly how important Black Friday and the Christmas shopping period really are and identify the biggest trends…
Black Friday is originally an American trend, the day after Thanksgiving where retailers would drop prices for one day only in preparation for the Christmas season. UK retailers brought over this trend a few years back and it is now a key date in the year where shoppers are keen to find a bargain. This year Black Friday will be on Friday 24th November.
In 2016, Black Friday resulted in a 12% rise in online spending in the UK, according to retail analysts IMRG. This led to a huge £1.23bn being spent online on that one particular day. When taking into the consideration the whole Black Friday week, which spanned from Monday 21st November to Monday 28th November, online sales rose to £6.5bn in total. In 2017 we are predicted to spend £7bn over the same 7 day period.

Analysts predict that we will spend £7 billion over Black Friday week in 2017

Cyber Monday is the online equivalent of Black Friday, which takes place on the following Monday. This year Cyber Monday will be on Monday 27th November. In 2016 consumers spent £1.9bn on the day, which was a 20% increase in online purchases compared to 2015.

Discounting is beginning earlier

Last year we saw retailers starting their sales promotions before Black Friday, some for the duration of the month. We expect this to be even more so in 2017, as it allows retailers to spread the chaos.
However, if you offer discounts throughout November and intend to participate in Black Friday it’s important you have special offers set aside for the day. Many retailers are being caught out as some of the deals they advertised on Black Friday were actually found to be cheaper in the month before or after. This is misleading to consumers, which in turn can tarnish the brand.


If you’ve been following ecommerce trends, it should come as no surprise that last year mobile overtook desktop as the most preferred Christmas shopping channel, but it appears that the UK are more trusting of online shopping than the US, according to data from ChannelAdvisor.
Brits tend to spend the more on mobile devices over Christmas than many other countries, not just the US. In 2016, £4.10 out of every £10 spent online was done on a mobile device. Although this is similar to the Christmas period of 2015, it does show an increase from earlier on in 2016 where only £1.70 out of every £10 spent online was on a smartphone.

Understanding your consumer

Black Friday doesn’t have to be just about discounts, you can use the day to offer your consumers something special. The Whiskey Exchange opted for this approach last year, instead of discounting they brought back a discontinued line for 60% more. This approach showed that they understood what their customers wanted and that they had the confidence to go against the norm which was proven to be a huge success. Their online sales were 25% higher than Black Friday 2015 and in the long-term built brand loyalty.

In 2016, £24.48bn was spent online between mid-November until Christmas Eve, this was up 16% compared to 2015.

Last minute shoppers

Despite the high number of shoppers looking for bargains in November, last-minute shoppers are also on the rise. In 2016, the Monday before Christmas saw a 50% rise in revenue compared to the previous year. Christmas fell on a Sunday last year, which was a great help to retailers as this gave shoppers more time to pick up any last minute items. Christmas will fall on a Monday in 2017 which gives shoppers the whole weekend to shop in preparation for the big day, so we would expect last-minute shoppers to increase yet again!

Shoppers also kept the Boxing Day sales tradition alive, with just over a tenth (11%) more spent on 26th December in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Shipping and returns

As we expect a rise in last-minute shoppers, shipping cost and speed will play a key role as to whether someone will shop with you or take their business elsewhere. The option for same or next day delivery is essential with late last shipping dates. Earlier in the month, free delivery will certainly draw shoppers in, therefore if you offer it, ensure it’s prominent for shoppers to be aware of. A high number of online retailers now offer free delivery as standard.
People expect a quick service, particularly over Christmas as it’s a time-sensitive period. Although shipping is the main priority, returns will also have an influence as to whether someone makes a purchase with you. How easy is it to return? Is there an extended returns period over Christmas? Can you return to the store? Can you get a gift receipt? Will it cost to return? Shoppers will be expecting to have all of these answers readily available in order to make a quick and informed decision or purchase.

Want to know how you can drive some extra revenue over this Christmas period? My previous blog has some tips, or speak to our team for some tailored consultancy and digital marketing expertise.

Written by Natalie Williams

Client Partner Marketing Manager

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