Anyone who’s found themselves breaking into a cold sweat at the mere thought of budgeting for Christmas will have noticed the rise of two wallet-friendly days that have crept onto the UK’s shopping calendar.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are days where retail stores traditionally offer their products at dramatically reduced prices, leading to massive spikes in both real and virtual traffic.
Physical vs virtual
As an official kick-off to the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday tends to bring the crowds flocking to midnight openings and special promotional events throughout the US and UK. Taking place the day after American Thanksgiving, Black Friday is among the biggest days of the year for retail sales, with UK figures reaching £810 million in 2014 and experts predicting an even larger result for 2015.
Cyber Monday was the name given to the first Monday in December, due to the peak of online purchases which traditionally happen on that day. The brick-and-mortar branches of US and UK retailers bring in record numbers of customers on Black Friday, while on Cyber Monday retail websites come under heavy strain as high volumes of visitors seek a bargain. But aside from the physical and virtual aspects, how else are the two days different?
David and Goliath
One interesting difference between the two shopping days is that Black Friday sees major supermarkets and retailers flogging their wares both instore and online. While some might think this somewhat defeats the purpose of Cyber Monday, this day is traditionally for smaller web-only businesses to set up shop in a virtual marketplace. Shoppers with strong brand loyalty, who are disappointed by Friday’s offers, can then be tempted to hang onto their shopping funds in the hopes that their favourite retailer will cut prices on Cyber Monday. Of course, what doesn’t sell on Black Friday can’t reasonably be recorded, but the fact that Cyber Monday saw £720m of sales in 2014 means there’s still a market for those looking for something a bit different – whether it’s intended as a Christmas gift or simply a household necessity.
What’s on offer?
While major retailers tend to follow the crowds and focus on Black Friday sales in particular, savvy shoppers know which day is best for the kind of item they’ve got an eye on.
An article published before the 2013 events points out the big differences: if you’re shopping for a geek in the family or wish to splash out on some new cookware, Black Friday is your best bet. Tech giants Apple have been known to discount their leading items like iPods and Mac computers on Black Friday, while sellers of desktop PCs and laptops tend to get in early on this weekend of savings too. The Mirror also spotted that there tends to be a wider range of deals on kitchen appliances and cookware during Black Friday, than on Cyber Monday.
It’s ironic that the word ‘cyber’ indicates techy deals all round on the Monday, but this isn’t the case. Instead, it’s clothing and fashion retailers who do the best business on Cyber Monday. With online clothing and accessories stores acting as virtual catwalks, you could find that browsing online is a lot more convenient than instore during the Friday rush!
For many retailers the weekend following Thanksgiving is a hugely important couple of days – both on the high street and the virtual marketplace, shoppers can get their fix of the best deals ahead of what’s sure to be a big-spending pre-Christmas period.