It was meant to be the day of carnage when scores of people mindlessly barged into the nearest retailer to acquire as many of the supposed bargains as possible. Shops were meant to prepare themselves for an unprecedented amount of footfall and master the latest conflict resolution techniques.
Instead, everyone was in for a time of tranquility – not the calm before the storm, just the calm.
— Cristina Criddle (@CristinaCriddle) November 27, 2015
— Katie Strick (@katie_strick) November 27, 2015
Even London’s Oxford Street was the epitome of civility, if not even apathy.
— Joe Tidy (@joetidy) November 27, 2015
Online transactions ‘stole the show’
These images of people trickling in rather than charging like maniacs amounted to a year-on-year 9.6 per cent drop in footfall in retail destinations over the whole weekend, according to Springboard. On Black Friday specifically, there was a 4.5 per cent drop from the previous year. Online transactions on the other hand saw a 12 per cent year-on-year rise across the whole weekend.
— Kate (@KateSamuelson) November 27, 2015
“The nature of Black Friday and indeed all shopping has continued to move toward online over the year fuelled by the increased usage of mobile phones, which according to PCA Predict make up 35 per cent of all online traffic,” commented Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights director at Springboard.
People put off by last year’s chaos
One of the reasons in-store purchases were relatively underwhelming was probably because people were put off by the chaos. Images from last year’s Black Friday of people fighting, squabbling over products coupled with the fact that most retailers suggested they would offer same or similar offers online made up many consumers’ minds before the sales day even arrived.
Eight out of ten people said before Black Friday they are unlikely to visit retailers to purchase discounted goods, according to a YouGov poll conducted on 17th November.
Similar trends in the US
The news in the US isn’t all that different, albeit all the figures to do with money spent are much bigger. Bricks-and-mortar sales on Black Friday fell from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.6 billion this year, according to ShopperTrak. Meanwhile, online sales on Friday jumped by 14 per cent to $2.72 billion, according to Adobe.
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Purchases via mobile made up 34 per cent of all online sales, with smartphones generating a record 22 percent share of sales, 70 percent more than in 2014.
“US consumers have turned into digital shopping ninjas this holiday season as retailers continue to adjust to a huge influx of smartphone shoppers,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index.
On both sides of the Atlantic it appears creators and exponents of Black Friday were hoisted by their petards. By hyping up the sales’ day in recent years, winding people up to fever pitch and then letting them loose on stores, they created an atmosphere of chaos and fear. In the UK the novelty wore off very quickly as even Asda – which is owned by the US giant Walmart and was the first store in the UK to participate in Black Friday – decided against participating this year.
Every year e-commerce makes significant payment advances. Online retailers such as as Amazon store users’ card details, allowing them to bypass the labour of typing in the details, and the introduction of features such as the one-click buy button turns online shopping into some sort of instant impulse gratification.
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