What is Black Friday?
The Centre for Retail Research estimates online spending on Black Friday to be closer to £966m, with total Black Friday sales (including in stores) reaching £1.39bn and shopping over the entire weekend nearing £3.5bn.
Needless to say, things can get a little messy – and Asda, which made Black Friday mainstream in the UK – has washed its hands of the whole 24-hour frenzy this year.
On Black Friday last year, British consumers spent £810m on online purchases alone. That works out to a rate of £9,375 every second.
When is Black Friday?
The sales bonanza takes place the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November. This year, Black Friday falls on November 27.
Most sales kick off at midnight or at 8am, although the day is creeping earlier and earlier, with many retailers launching the offers the evening before or even at the start of the week. This year, some merchants have already kicked off their deals.
What are the best deals?
Plenty of retailers have launched their deals already. Our full round-up of this year’s best Black Friday deals is here. Here’s a small teaser.
• Amazon, which received orders for more than 5.5m goods on Black Friday last year, selling 64 items per second, is kicking off its week of “lightning deals” as the clock strikes 12 on Monday 23rd November. It is also cutting the cost of Amazon Prime from November 15 to 18.
• John Lewis has launched its Black Friday website and, like last year, when the retailer sold a NutriBullet every 30 seconds, has promised to honour its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge and match its competitors’ prices.
• Ebay is expecting 9m Britons to visit its website over Black Friday and will be unveiling new deals every morning at 8am between Monday November 23 and Monday November 30.
• Halfords will be offering children’s bikes at up to half price from Friday 27 to Monday 30 November.
• Argos, which saw 660,000 visits to its website within one hour of launching its Black Friday deals, is offering deals on the three Fridays running up to the big day as part of its “Red, White and Blue Fridays” campaign.
• Asda has said it will not be participating in the mad rush of Black Friday this year and instead will be offering £26m worth of discounts throughout November and December. Deals including six bottles of wine for £25, LEGO City Vehicle 3 in 1 half price at £40 and an Oral B 2500 electric toothbrush, £30 down from £75.00.
• If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, you might want to wait until Black Friday. Context, the IT supply chain analyst, said that 77,000 laptops were imported to UK distributors in the final week of October – the highest weekly figure on record.
“This is the highest ever spike we’ve seen in notebook shipments and indicates some great deals for savvy shoppers looking for an upgrade or a great Christmas present,” said Context’s Adam Simon.
What will Black Friday look like this year?
While Asda has washed its hands of the whole affair, after hosting some of the messiest scenes from last year in its aisles, Tesco is planning on participating in a big way again, closing its Extra stores from midnight to 5am in a bid to stem some of the madness it hosted last year.
Internet spending on Black Friday alone is expected to hit £1.07bn, a 32pc increase on last year’s £810m, according to Experian-IMRG, which will mark the first time that online retail sales in the UK will surpass £1bn in one day.
The Centre for Retail Research has a slightly more modest estimate, with online spending on Black Friday expected to reach £966m. It expects total Black Friday sales, including bricks and mortar stores, to climb to £1.39bn and shopping over the entire weekend to near £3.5bn.
Visa Europe’s estimate is even more conservative, predicting that £721m will be spent online on Black Friday, up from £616m last year. Face-to-face spending will increase by 4pc to £1.19bn.
Britons will increase their web spending by almost a third on Cyber Mondayand New Year’s Day too, to £943m and £638m respectively, while Boxing Day sales will tempt consumers to part with 22pc more than last year, or £856m. Even Christmas Day will not provide respite for wallets, with online spending expected to increase 11pc to £728m.
Over the entire five-week festive period, consumers are expected to spend £4.9bn on internet shopping, up from £4bn in 2014.
Shops themselves will be busy, too. Springboard predicts that footfall on Black Friday will be 11.5pc higher than last year, driven by a 17pc boost in visits to retail parks.
However, that doesn’t bode well for later on in the Christmas shopping period. Footfall is expected to be 8.8pc lower on Boxing Day than it was last year as consumers splash out on earlier sales or choose to shop online.
Last year was the first time that Boxing Day was not the highest retail spending day of the year in the UK.
Where did Black Friday get its name?
“Black” has traditionally been applied to days with major stock market crashes, such as when an attempt to manipulate the gold market led to a Black Friday in September 1869.
The term was first used in the shopping context more than 50 years ago by Philadelphia police officers to describe the chaotic day after Thanksgivingwhen the city was overrun with the traffic of consumers flocking to the Christmas sales and sports fans travelling to the annual Army vs Navy American football game.
Retailers tried to rename the day “Big Friday”, but it didn’t stick.
It is also believed that the name comes from the day when many retailers, which do not make a profit until the Christmas trading period, move from the red into the black.
Due to the chaotic scenes that have become part and parcel of Black Friday, The Telegraph last year christened the day “black and blue Friday”.
Black Friday: Is it big in Europe too?
Not even close. UK retailers account for the lion’s share of Black Friday spend in Europe, accounting for almost two thirds of all sales.
While Britons will spend £966m on internet shopping during the 24-hour sales event, according to the Centre for Retail Research, retailers in Germany, the next largest market, will take in less than a third of that, selling goods worth £281m. Of course, the US is still far away in front…
Why does the UK care about Thanksgiving?
A worthy question.
Black Friday first arrived in the UK five years ago when Amazon thought it would try its luck bringing the shopping sensation to a new market. In 2013, Asda, which is owned by American retail giant Walmart, participated in UK’s version of Black Friday, and last year most major UK retailers including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Argos and even British Airways jumped on board.
And with that, any remaining English decorum flew out the window. Shoppers trampled over each other in their rush to enter stores and police were called to break up fights as consumers grappled over discounted televisions and behaved “like animals”.
Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland even tabled a motion in the House of Commons criticising “large retailers who chose to adopt the American retail custom of Black Friday” for enabling public disorder and wasting police time. The motion, which was signed by Jeremy Corbyn, called on UK retailers not to engage in Black Friday again.
Cyber Monday. What’s that?
The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 to refer to the first day back at work after the Thanksgiving weekend, when people would continue their shopping online on their office computers. This year, Cyber Monday is on November 30th.
While many retailers offer online deals on Black Friday, usually a new trove of internet-only discounts are unleashed on Cyber Monday.
There’s also Small Business Saturday, an initiative started by American Express in the US that was picked up in the UK two years ago. It encourages consumers to support their local retailers.
Then there’s Sofa Sunday, a slightly less established term for the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, when turkey-bloated people who have shopped until they’ve dropped can continue the spending via mobile devices from the comfort of their own homes.
And if all this consumerism is getting you down, look forward to Giving Tuesday, a day that encourages the more charitable side of things.
Black Friday 2015: What you need to know