VeInsights: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Tales From Both Sides Of The Atlantic

By Kathy Heslop |

November 27, 2013 | 5 min read

It’s the end of November, meaning that Christmas is just around the corner! Consumers across the world are heading to the shops – whether to their local high streets or online, to make sure that Christmas gifts are bought, and/or arrive, and are wrapped in time. The biggest e-commerce events of the season are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which were initially developed in the US but later were successfully exported in the UK and other markets as well.

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States, (tomorrow), and is often considered as the beginning of Christmas shopping in the US. Since the mid-Noughties, many major American retailers have opened extremely early on that day and offered promotional sales to kick-start their Christmas shopping season. Black Friday is also a day off for many government employees in some US states (including California), which increases the number of potential shoppers too. Since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year in the US, but recently Black Friday promotions were started in other countries, including Brazil and Russia. And while Black Friday initially started as a high street and mall event, it has been increasingly moving online in recent years.

Cyber Monday is the first Monday after the American Thanksgiving and it came about following the success of Black Friday sales. The term was the brainchild of marketing companies trying to persuade customers to shop online. Cyber Monday debuted in 2005 and quickly turned into one of the busiest days for online shopping in the US.

This year Black Friday is arriving on November 29 and Cyber Monday is marking the start of next month on December 02. Ahead of these big e-commerce dates, we employed VeInsights, a data-driven product by Ve Interactive, to the results of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to VeInsights data, in the United States, online sales, (measured by the number of online transactions our solutions captured) on Black Friday 2012, was 36.5% higher than daily average for late November (see chart). Interest in online shopping, (measured by the number of shopping baskets), saw a bigger uplift – by 38.4% above the daily average. Cyber Monday was even more spectacular. While interest in online shopping was 52.9% higher than average, the number of actual online sales doubled, (it was 100.2% higher than the daily average), proving that Cyber Monday measured up to its name.

On Cyber Monday 2012 in the US, the number of online sales of clothing and footwear was 142% higher than daily average, sales of specialty retailers – 101% higher, consumer electronics –79% higher, beauty products – 97% higher, while food and drink – were 271% higher than the daily average.

Interest in online shopping saw a significant increase too, though less than of actual sales: basket abandonment on Cyber Monday in the US was markedly lower than usual. Total baskets in clothing and footwear saw an uplift of 109%, among specialty retailers it was 24%, in consumer electronics – 29%, in food and drink – 251%, and in beauty products – the uplift was 27%.

The picture in the UK however, was more complicated (see chart). First, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated smaller uplifts in both online sales and e-consumers’ interest in shopping. For instance, the number of online sales on Black Friday in the UK was only 15.8% higher than the daily average, and the number of total baskets was mere 7.8% higher. British Cyber Monday was somewhat more pronounced – with a rise in sales by 17.9% over the average level and a 15.6% increase in total baskets.

Strongest sector movers for Black Friday in the UK were travel and tourism – with sales of 45% above daily average, food and drink – 26% above, and beauty products – 11% above the daily average. Cyber Monday was boosted by sales in travel and tourism – 30% above average, publishing and entertainment – 19.2% and beauty products - 22% above daily average.

An interesting story for the UK though was the presence of a third peak – on Wednesday 28th of November. That day the number of online sales grew by 10.6% above average, while the number of total baskets – by 8.6% above average, (the latter figure was higher, than for Black Friday). Sales experienced a boost across the board – from clothing to beauty products, and from consumer electronics to food and drink. One possible explanation for this uplift is the fact that 28th of each month is a common payday for many employers across Britain, particularly in the public sector. Which means that UK e-commerce saw a triple effect of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and “Pay Day” Wednesday.


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