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Black Friday 2016 Review

Retailers can now enter a period of respite as the Black Friday period is over for another year. Sales figures from Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined consistently increase year-on-year, making each annual event record breaking in comparison to the last. 2016 was no different. There have surfaced four significant trends from this year’s sales, which we explore below:

Online purchases dominate spending

Contrasted with the frantic rush of Black Friday 2015, which saw widely reported police intervention between shoppers scrambling to bag the best deals, Black Friday 2016 appeared relatively calm on the surface.

Supermarket giant Tesco prepared to maximise Black Friday sales by opening hundreds of its largest stores at 5am; equipping each store with crowd-control barriers and extra security guards. This preparation was in vain, however, as a Tesco Extra store in South London reported only eleven people in the queue when the supermarket opened its doors.

High streets around Britain appeared practically deserted as shoppers opted to take to the web to complete purchases. Retailers’ most anticipated day of the year has firmly migrated online, as stores began racking up sales from the stroke of midnight. Argos reported 80% of online sales came via mobile, indicating that the preference of visiting brick and mortar stores has been overtaken by the convenience of shopping on-the-go and at a time that suits the individual.

This enormity of online purchases could only be predicted, and many retailers struggled to take the strain of the influx of shoppers. Currys PC World suffered from web problems, just 15 minutes into Black Friday, causing the public to vent their frustrations online.  

Shopping traction is at a high early morning

Product sales do not adhere to the restrictions of conventional opening hours, particularly when they only occur annually. Whilst physical stores may extend opening hours to cater to the sales day buzz, online sales kick off the moment the clock passes midnight.  

British building society Nationwide reported that its customers spent a total amount of £33.9m between midnight and 10am, up 57% on a typical Friday. During these usually unsociable early hours, more than 630,353 transactions were completed, an increase of 40% on Black Friday last year.

These expenditure figures are easily accounted for, as Currys PC World said more than 500,000 shoppers had visited its website before 6am with orders up 40% on 2015. Similarly, Argos says its busiest hour so far was between 8am and 9am, when it received around 700,000 web visits (80% of which were conducted on mobile or tablet devices).

Exploiting sales online and during early hours, when it is presumed website traffic will be marginally less, is indefinitely a trend that will be carried over into next year’s sales cycle. A round-the-clock web strategy that won’t stutter under the pressure of thousands of visitors should be at the forefront of every retailer’s mind.

Electronic brands are in demand

A number of retailers have reported on the most popular products to fly off the shelves over the course of the weekend. reported that 15 consoles sold every minute, closely followed in popularity by smartwatches which were purchased every 12 seconds.

Tesco’s top selling items included HD TVs, copies of FIFA 17, iPad minis and Google Chromecast devices. Following suit, Argos reported that its top sellers included iPads, game consoles and Beats headphones.

As electronic and technology companies continue to advance product offerings and appeal to the mass market, it is likely that this demand will consistently run throughout sales periods.

Cyber Monday becomes more significant

Cyber Monday has substantially grown in popularity and is hot on the heels of Black Friday in terms of public expenditure. British shoppers are expected to increase spending by a fifth to £1.9bn on Cyber Monday, mostly due to the day signifying the last nationwide payday before Christmas.

An analysis by social monitoring system, Talkwalker, reports that there have been approximately 580,000 mentions of Cyber Monday on social networks in the last week; a statistic that includes more than 220,000 mentions in the past 48 hours alone.  

The statistics and Cyber Monday trends indicate that this day event, essentially an extension of Black Friday itself, has the potential to become the most popular sales day of the year.

To Conclude

In the six years since Black Friday was introduced to the UK, the event has rocketed in popularity and now spreads itself across a number of record-breaking sales days. Reflecting on the trends from this year, it can be predicted that 2017’s Black Friday will be as popular as ever amongst shoppers, particularly online, as more users turn to mobile devices to complete purchases. Ditching the sales queues and turning to online relieves the pressure for brick and mortar stores, however, it will be more important than ever for retailers to begin preparation in order to be completely consumer ready for 2017.

What do you predict will be the trends for Black Friday 2017? Tweet us your predictions @mporiumgroup.

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