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The rise of Black Friday & Cyber Monday in the UK

The rise of Black Friday & Cyber Monday in the UK

Many aspects of US culture have migrated to the UK. We Brits love burgers, proms and American TV, and there’s another trend that’s taken hold in recent years: Black Friday.

How did Black Friday originate?

Thanksgiving, which lies on the fourth Thursday in November, is a US federal holiday. Non-retail workers and students would often get the next day off too, so they could enjoy a four-day weekend. This, combined with the fact that the turkey-oriented holiday had now passed them by, meant many Americans started their Christmas shopping on the Friday.

Retailers looking to take advantage of this busy day started offering special discounts, and it eventually became tradition to offer deals on Black Friday, apparently named because it was the day of the year that shops started to turn a profit – going from ‘in the red’ to ‘in the black’.

Black Friday’s spread to the UK

The UK might not have Thanksgiving, but British retailers saw American stores drawing huge crowds, and wanted a piece of the action. Of course, UK shoppers were also keen to enjoy pre-holiday reductions – we’re used to Boxing Day sales where potential Christmas gifts are discounted too late.

Retailers that have already enjoyed success with American Black Friday sales, such as Walmart (ASDA) and Apple, were among the first to offer similar promotions in the UK.

The growth of Black Friday in the UK

Springboard found that footfall at UK retail stores rose 6.2 per cent from Black Friday 2012 to Black Friday 2013. Experian research showed that online searches for ‘Black Friday’ increased by 355 per cent in the same period.

Compared to Black Friday 2013, interest in Black Friday 2006 was just one per cent, according to Google Trends data. This rose to two per cent in 2007, three per cent in 2008, five per cent in 2009, 13 per cent in 2010, 22 per cent in 2011, and 28 per cent in 2012.

What is Cyber Monday?

In the US, Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, landing on the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Cyber Monday’s spread to the UK

Monday’s in late November and early December have been popular shopping days in the UK for years, as people look to order gifts in time for Christmas. Why Mondays? Claudia Lombana, a shopping specialist at eBay and PayPal, has a theory.

She told The New York Times: “People are sitting at their desk at work, thinking about things they didn’t get done over the weekend, the errands they didn’t get to run, the things they didn’t get to purchase. And sometimes they have that saying, a case of the Mondays.”

In 2013, December 2nd cemented itself as the biggest of the ‘Mega Mondays’, largely thanks to marketing efforts and special promotions designed to align the British and American Cyber Mondays.

The growth of Cyber Monday in the UK

In 2013, UK Cyber Monday sales were up 31.6 per cent year-on-year, according to the IBM UK Online Retail Christmas Shopping Trends report. Peerius found that online traffic had increased 30 per cent, with mobile traffic rising by 55 per cent.

Google Trends shows Cyber Monday has had a similar experience to Black Friday in the UK: it was practically unknown before 2010, and its popularity has grown extraordinarily in the last few years.

Will you be joining the thousands of Brits planning to do their Christmas shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year? Let us know in the comments below.


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