Just how big is Black Friday in the UK?


The term Black Friday was first coined by Philadelphia police in the early 1950s. It referred to the chaotic Friday after Thanksgiving. The City would be out in droves for the annual Army versus Navy (American) football match as well as shoppers hunting for bargains in the local department stores.

Fast-forward to 2017, the Army versus Navy game is still going and shoppers are still going bonkers for bargains. I can’t say I follow American football, so I don’t know how much that game has changed over the years. However, I can say with confidence that consumption and shopping habits have changed, drastically.

Transition to online

Rather than just being a one day sale bonanza, Black Friday has morphed into a week of discounts and shopping frenzies, offline and more importantly, online. This is highlighted by the shift in buying to ‘Cyber Monday’. This is another phrase which slipped its way into our lexicon thanks to our transatlantic cousins. Ellen Davis, then SVP of the National Retail Federation, reacted to 77% of online retailers noticing a spike in sales on the Monday following Black Friday and devised the term.

Transition to the UK

Despite the long-standing tradition in the USA, Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s UK inception was far more recent. Amazon were the UK pioneers, offering Black Friday deals back in 2010. Since then, many retailers and brands have joined in, in one way or another. According to Kantar just 17% of UK shoppers hadn’t heard of Black Friday in 2016 – a figure which was 60% in France. Although I’m not convinced Vendredi Noir has the same ring to it.

How big is Black Friday in the UK?

Black Friday Spend 2016:

  • Black Friday clocked an astronomical £2.9bn in spend (this includes non-Black Friday deals).
  • Online retail sites took a £1.23bn slice of this, a 16% increase from 2015.
  • Over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, £5.8bn was spent. This accounted for a 15% increase on the year before.
  • Online retailers again took a healthy chunk of this, to the tune of £2.8bn, an increase of 20% compared with 2015.

Growth compared to 2015:

  • Visa and Nationwide Building Society recorded sales increasing 13% in the build-up to Black Friday and across the period.
  • Last year, Cyber Monday’s online spend increased 15%, the number of individual sales jumped a massive 76%.
  • Last year, revenue on UK sites was up 25% on the year prior, whilst footfall in physical stores on the high street was down by 7%.
  • It’s not just retail benefiting, data has shown that searches for flights increase as much as a third on Cyber Monday- bookings last year increased 21%.

Whilst there was healthy growth in terms of spend, mobile’s importance in the consumer journey saw much growth too:

  • A whopping 64% of purchases took place on mobile, up from just 48% in 2015.
  • The percentage of searches for products was slightly higher on desktop, however, over 60% of sales came from mobile.

Sure, spend and growth are interesting, but who is shopping on Black Friday? Where are they shopping? And what for?

Regital partner Media iQ commissioned in depth research to answer just this.

Here’s a snapshot of the insight report, based on 2016’s data:

Media iQ Insights:

To analyse consumers, Media iQ first classified shoppers into three broad categories, based on when they start their search for Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals:

  • Super Shoppers – 3 months in advance;
  • Watchful Shoppers – Two weeks in advance;
  • Impulse shoppers – Start shopping during the week.

In analysing search keywords, campaign data and purchase behaviour, here’s what the iQ analysts discovered:

What are they searching for?

  • Regarding Black Friday, 23 % of Super Shoppers were searching for mobiles/tablets, 22% were looking for games consoles and 16% of them were looking for lifestyle products.
  • Regarding Cyber Monday 49% of Super Shoppers were searching for laptops and desktops, while 23% wanted to buy gadgets.

Where can you target them?

  • 35% of Black Friday Super Shoppers were browsing Tech Radar for the best deals. This jumped to 45% for Cyber Monday deals- unsurprising when we consider the most popular products are tech related.
  • The next three most popular websites were the Mirror, the Telegraph and the Metro.

Regital partner Adobe also found that brands who invested in mobile, email and social saw 30% more sales than those who focused on just one or two channels.

With more and more advertisers investing in Black Friday deals if you would like more information on how to effectively use online marketing for Black Friday or to get a copy of our PlayStation Black Friday Case Study and Insights – please click here or get in touch on (0) 161 974 0496