Remember that time the UK had a bountiful harvest and then created a holiday celebrating it? No? But America did in 1621 and they called it Thanksgiving, Britain being the multicultural foster parents we are, want a piece of that pie. Except not that bit, because that would involve eating turkey twice a year, we actually want to join in on Black Friday, which is to not have a piece of that pie and eat it anyway. But, what is Black Friday and more importantly, who benefits?
Black Friday is the kick off to shopping season, the beginning of the Christmas period, unofficially, and the ideal time to get the goods. This is because it is the last public holiday before Christmas, although the honorary Remembrance Day should be observed, and if we can’t celebrate celebrating Christmas (definitely a celebration in itself), well what can we celebrate? Therefore in the build up to Christmas a frenzied spending day of deals and discounts is in order to make Christmas kinder on the wallet. So, that’s what it is. Well, who benefits from Black Friday?
Good question, and the answer isn’t an easy one. But maybe some statistics will help us find out. I can tell you that the UK is to hit 1 billion pounds within one day of sales for the first time in history, so that definitely sounds like a good thing. The UK economy getting a 1 billion pound investment. Last year’s £810  million has had a gigantic 25% dropped on top of it. The population of Britain may have increased by only 0.5%, an indication that more people are getting involved and those of us who were already involved are spending more also. So a rise in popularity is definitely noticeable. On average over Black Friday 2014, we charged down the aisles, both virtually and physically, spending at a rate of £9,375 every single second. Phew! I bet the stores made some profit out of that, I bet ASDA sold a lot of Orange Juice. I bet they’ll do the same again this year. Nope. It turns out consumer spending doesn’t necessarily equate to profit.
I Predict a Riot
According to an interesting article from the Guardian , ASDA did not have a good time last year. Aside from not making a profit, selling more TVs than bottles of orange juice and having 2 million sales calls before 8am, they decided to reign it in a bit this year. By this they mean either leave it strictly online or spread the festivities over many days to reduce the tumult. The logistics of Black Friday can be a headache. One must consider additional staff members, security, the cost of the goods they’re buying from the industry and the margin they must purchase them to still turn out a profit despite the discount, and extensive additions to their computers for data handling, unsociable hours and the very real possibility of catching a stray left hook trying to break up two people who really want a discounted camera so they can take Black Friday selfies.
It can be considered sensible that ASDA may choose to react in this way. Well are they alone in their decision? No. REI has taken a stand this year and told its staff members, ‘go home and have the day off, furthermore, you’ll be remunerated your usual days’ pay.’ But they’re not alone either. For reasons unbeknownst the Apple Store doesn’t take part in Cyber Monday. An event we’ll touch upon shortly.
So if not all the commercial stores are raking it in, what about the online ones? Well the truth is, yes. Online shopping does fantastically well. Although a server is no different to a store, you can only fit so many people to one hub. So imagine Argos’s surprise when it had 660,000 people visit the online store in one hour last year, although a queue waiting for my item ‘487’ can often feel this long anyway. So some of the major retailers’ websites went down. Even the search team ‘Black Friday’ had tripled in use according to Google . So it seems that online stores benefit, despite maybe a few hiccups.
Do we benefit? Well that’s entirely up to you. It seems that consumers definitely get things cheaper compared to the rest of the year, but would they be inclined to buy another product because of the leftover money they would typically have spent? Would that new product mean you spend more? You’d definitely get value for money in both cases. So it depends on your objective, if you want more for less or you want the same for less and can still afford to heat your house over Christmas, then you’re a winner.
Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately after the Black Friday. It came about when Shop.org realised that “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year” a 2005 notice. 9 years, a coined term and marketing investment upon marketing investment later online sales grew to a record of $2.68 billion.
Although there is much in common between these two material events, for example the busyness and commercial element. They do vary in these details in themselves. For example, it is an event more geared towards online shopping as opposed to the High Street. What people purchase changes too, for example clothing sells more in comparison to Black Friday, where TVs and beauty products sell.
Plus it looks as though online pandemonium is a lot less physically painful than real pandemonium and we have the internet to attend to us all individually at the same time, something impossible in Walmart at 11am with a human representative during the midst of Black Friday.
This year we expect sales to reach $3 billion on our Cyber Monday globally. Happy spending.