Black Friday and Cyber Weekend 2017 – What Did We Learn?

December 8, 2017

Brands Gautam Srivastava By Gautam Srivastava

The dust has now settled on the UK’s biggest online eCommerce event of the year. So what did we learn for those looking to sell more?

Clicks beat bricks hands down this Black Friday

Black Friday started as an in-store sales bonanza. But this year it’s clear that Black Friday is no longer ‘brick-and-mortar’ – it’s moved pretty conclusively online.

IMRG revealed that the amount spent on online retail sites on Black Friday 2017 rose 11.7% to £1.39 billion (ahead of predicted growth). Black Friday footfall on the other hand was down 3.6%. Likewise, online sales over the weekend after Black Friday remained strong, jumping 18% on Saturday year-on-year, then 6% on Sunday.

Black Friday starts before ‘Black Friday’

Only 1% of shoppers claim they start their Christmas shopping on Black Friday itself. Almost two thirds prefer to start earlier according to research carried out by  IMRG and Toluna. Many retailers have taken note, launching their event a full week before the day – with a series of specific Black Friday discounting campaigns.

This demonstrates the need to plan for peaks well before the event – perhaps from Halloween onward, with themed promotions running up to the Black Friday weekend.

Site speed is still an issue for many retailers

Many of the UK’s top e-retailers are still not acting to solve slow loading mobile speeds, with 54% of sites rated as ‘poor’ – taking more than nine seconds to load. This is especially dire considering that 50% of people expect a site to load in less than two seconds. For every additional second a site takes to load the rates of conversion have been found to drop by up to 20%.

Sluggish websites put retailers’s holiday sales at risk. Find out how fast your site is loading by visiting Google’s free checker ‘Test your mobile speed’.

Sales momentum faded by Cyber Monday

The fact that Black Friday is now quintessentially an online event seems to have dampened down the success of Cyber Monday, which was formerly a uniquely ‘cyber’ event.

In 2016 UK consumers spent 1.9 million on Cyber Monday. This year transactions on the day fell by 14% according to PCA Predict data. While the PCA recorded 5,010,000 online transactions on Cyber Monday this was far exceeded by the 9,677,660 generated on Black Friday.

In the US it was a different story. According to Adobe data, Cyber Monday in America became the largest online sales day in history resulting in $6.59 billion being spent online. That’s an increase of 16.8 percent year on year (a billion dollars more than in 2016). In fact, Cyber Monday sales beat Black Friday sales which saw $5.03 billion spent online.

As predicted mobile played a major part in sales

Brands that have been proactively developing their multi-channel mobile engagement strategies have been the biggest winners this Black Friday weekend.

Smartphones were the primary source of new visitors with 51%  arriving this way on Black Friday. And over a third of UK sales were made on mobile on the day too, with peaks that were far higher. Up to 60% of sales were made via mobile or a tablet device between the hours of 6am and 9am in the UK. And between midnight and 6am smartphones were the overwhelming device of choice with 74% of transactions made this way during these hours. Shopify revealed that mobile sales worldwide during the event accounted for 64% of their orders – an increase of 10% year on year.

Millennials could be another reason for the dramatic growth in mobile. When asked 75% said they expected to shop via mobile over the Cyber Weekend, compared with just a quarter of ‘baby boomers’. Another reason to get to grips with the millennial market.

Who were the winners over the Black Friday weekend?

Black Friday/Cyber Monday proved a hit for fashion and apparel retailers. Shopify data revealed that the biggest buys around the world were apparel with 1,423,864 items bought, followed by accessories at 917,346.

Amazon saw record results on Cyber Monday which proved to be the biggest shopping day worldwide in the company’s history. Sales beat Prime Day 2017, an increase of 50% year on year on the day, the bestselling item being the Echo Dot. In fact, voice activated devices were in demand across the board – Google’s version included – indicating that people may be turning to voice far more in future when using of the web.

Paid search and email had the highest rate of conversions

Advertising via programmatic display ad conversions in the UK soared – the total uplift in conversions was a massive 139% on Black Friday compared with a normal Friday in November. This indicates that people appear to be more accepting of this form of advertising in the path to purchase.

Should you participate?

Not all brands take part in Black Friday – Marks & Spencer being an example – and when asked, 66% of shoppers said participation/non-participation didn’t impact how they perceived a brand. In fact, over a quarter said they respected a brand for not participating.

We hope you, like many UK e-retailers, enjoyed a rewarding Cyber Weekend this year. The run up to Christmas is rapidly gathering pace – but there’s still time to fine-tune your eCommerce strategy. Why not drop us a line at to talk through your options? And stay on trend by checking out our Guide to getting mobile ready, as well as our e-book on selling to the millennial market.