Retailers were poised for a record-breaking onslaught from bargain hunters last Friday but Cyber Monday style shoppers beat them to it.

The UK has become used to the US originated Black Friday shopping chaos, many stores organised extra staff, some, such as Tesco opened early at 5:00 am to ease the rush, but it had already happened online in the guise of the traditionally online-only Cyber Monday crowd.

The spectacle has grown from the eagerly awaited high street panic buy fuelled by the buzz of speculated price drops, to now the widely-marketed start of the Christmas shopping frenzy. Shoppers are becoming savvier with the online shopping process, advanced released price drops allow buyers to compare the offers across the sectors to gain the best deal.
For the first time, this has been predominantly done from the cosiness of a nice warm bed well in advance of leaving home for work, precluding many workers need for a day off.

Both Currys PC World and Argos reported over half a million potential customers had visited their e-commerce sites. One credit card company alone reported sales of over £2.9 billion over the weekend indicating a record-breaking sales volume overall of over £4 billion.

The larger retailers were advertising Black Friday deals from 14 days ahead, and many issued TV media, direct mail, and email flyers to promote the fact, all trying to get one jump ahead of the competition.

Strangely, the retailers that really gained from the phenomenon were the smaller independent shops who do not normally sell online that found the excited and panic buying shoppers visiting their stores to compare prices and then buying from independents after all.

A town-centre retailer was quoted as saying that the footfall and turnover were over 150% up over the previous year, but more importantly to them, more people purchased during that visit.

As Christmas approaches, it is expected that shoppers will turn more to the high-street outlets and away from on-line as stock levels decline and better deals may be available.

As we are still in November, there is plenty of time for the marketers to weave their magic and steer the last few £billion into their client’s accounts.

Based on the evening Standard and BBC News
26th November 2016

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