Mobile-driven Black Friday kick-starts Christmas

Black Friday has evolved, so what can we expect for 2019?

Ten years ago Black Friday began in the UK as a single day of eye-popping discounts, but these days most big retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Boots, Amazon, John Lewis and Argos, sensibly spread their offers over one or two weeks, to ease pressure on stores, staff and their home delivery networks.

Year on year shopper traffic growth on Black Friday may no longer be on the up.  But British retailers will still see a hefty spike in traffic into stores on the day, and the Saturday following Black Friday. According to ShopperTrak’s new Festive Peak Shopping 2019/20 report, this ‘Black Saturday’ is predicted to be the second busiest in UK stores of the entire Christmas trading season, after Super Saturday (21st December) which takes the top spot.

News coverage this week of a damning Which? report revealing that many Black Friday deals are not as good as they first seem, could dissuade shoppers from making rash purchases over the next few days. However the sheer scale and noise around the promotion is certain to generate a shopping buzz, which for many retailers serves as a valuable way to entice shoppers to spend. Black Friday is increasingly viewed by UK retailers as the point at which shoppers get serious about their Christmas gift buying.

M-commerce Black Friday Big emphasis on mobile commerce this Black Friday

While for Black Friday 2019 Tesco, John Lewis and Debenhams will open some stores earlier than usual, most retailers will post their bargains online first, stretching out the promotion for several days or even weeks.

Marketing experts BounceX have looked at global data for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and predict that for the first time ever more sales conversions will happen on mobile phones than desktops around the world (see stats below for more detail).

Thanks to the growing popularity of m-commerce, shoppers can hunt for early bargains using their mobile phones rather than queuing up in the early hours outside stores. This can still benefit  physical stores, as thousands of customers make their purchases online, but opt for click and collect – often picking up the goods on the Saturday straight after Black Friday.

This presents a further sales opportunity for canny retailers whose stores, employees and product ranges are primed to maximise conversions.

Data from behavioural marketing experts, BounceX:

  • More people will shop on mobile than desktop this year, with mobile conversions for Black Friday expected to outpace desktop conversions for the first time
  • Black Friday peak browsing will take place at 11am, with peak buying hours taking place between noon and 9pm
  • Shopper engagement also continues to increase online, with average page views on Black Friday having steadily increased by 114% since 2015.

Convenience of mobile search for Black Friday deals

Based on 2018 data, Bloomreach also predicts over 50% of ecommerce sales will come from mobile devices. 2018 saw UK mobile traffic spike by over 1 million searches on the week of Black Friday, with desktop only seeing an increase of just over 100,000.

Michael Schirrmacher, UK MD at Bloomreach says: “With record online sales last year and an ever-growing shift to mobile commerce, it’s important for companies to ensure they’re offering a sophisticated, yet easy, customer experience that spans all channels and platforms. If retailers don’t have the personal touch that many of their competitors will have, they’ll likely be left in the wake of larger ecommerce players who have historically dominated the Black Friday period.”

Black Friday around the world

While the US has long seen Black Friday as the biggest shopping day of the season – in fact of the whole year – ShopperTrak’s prediction is that Black Friday 2019 (falling on November 29th) will only appear in two other countries’ Top 5 traffic peak days – South Africa and Canada – out of 11 analysed.

In the US, Black Friday is significant because many offices are closed, or people take the Friday off work after Thanksgiving to enjoy the full ‘holiday weekend’, while Europeans don’t have that reason to hit the shops.

In the UK the discounting event is thought to have grown in popularity because it falls on the final pay day before Christmas. Germany, France and Spain have embraced Black Friday in the last three years, however in France for 2019 the event has been criticised by MPs on the grounds that it is bad for the planet, promotes ‘overconsumption’ and flouts strict French rules on sales periods.


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