Every year, following hot on the heels of Thanksgiving, comes Black Friday, and its online counterpart, Cyber Monday. Over the years, they have become increasingly crucial hotspots in the retail and commercial calendar. Love it or hate it, the Marmite of the shopping world brings huge spikes in revenue for retailers, and in recent years, brands have been coping with the demand by starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving itself, or even a couple of days before!
In the UK, where Thanksgiving itself is not a national event, economists often refer to Black Friday as the whole shopping period, incorporating Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the few days before, after, and in between. However, there are distinctions to be made. While Black Friday is synonymous with brawling in supermarket aisles in pursuit of a half price television, Cyber Monday comes with associations of frantically refreshing a slow webpage and crossing fingers that new hairdryer you’re after doesn’t go out of stock in the next thirty seconds. In short, although there are undeniably some fantastic bargains to be nabbed at this time of year, the whole experience can be an exhausting time for shoppers and retailers alike.
While debate still rages over whether there is any real difference between the two days and, if so, which one gets you the best deals, this Cyber Monday we invite you to take a step back from all the consumerist chaos: sit down, make a brew, and peruse what we believe to be the top three fun facts about this relatively modern economic phenomenon.
Cyber Monday is still in its infancy
Although its predecessor Black Friday dates back to the post-Thanksgiving sales of the 1950s, Cyber Monday, as the name suggests, is a far more recent development. As a specific and named event, it only really began in 2005, when the internet was still known as “cyberspace”, and shoppers needed incentives to their traditional Black Friday pastime of walking round a shop and doing battle with fellow consumers for bargain bits and bobs.
This makes Cyber Monday, as an event, just 12 years old!
Back in 2005, a team of savvy marketers at the National Retail Federation coined the name Cyber Monday as a way of pushing online sales in the same way Black Friday promoted brick-and-mortar shop sales, as people were already using the superior internet connections in their workplaces (remember, this was 2005!) to make purchases on the first day of the working week rather than toil over dial-up connections at home during the weekend.
Cyber Monday recently overtook Black Friday
Understandably, when the term was first coined, shoppers were initially unconvinced, remaining somewhat resistant to the idea of an online-only set of promotions and preferring to inspect and buy goods in person. Although the Monday after Thanksgiving was already popular day for online shopping at the time, it was not yet the capitalist juggernaut we know today. In fact, it was only the 12th busiest day for online retail.
Analysts and shoppers alike were sceptical that the day had any real clout with customer spending, but in 2014 that all changed.
That year, Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in the country, and by 2016, the day’s sales in America hit $3.45 billion. This meant Cyber Monday had beaten Black Friday’s own sales, which stood at $3.34 billion, and had also broken the record for the biggest e-commerce day in the United States’ history!
Cyber Monday is not the best day for technology deals
This may come as a surprise to some, given the fact that Cyber Monday's name and origins are inextricably linked to the development of the internet, online retail, and better computers, but the relationship between the day and technology is pretty much in name only. Research has found that retailers offer significantly more gadget and tech deals in-store on Black Friday, compared to Cyber Monday, which has a higher amount of bargains across the clothing, accessories, and footwear departments.
In 2013 and 2014 in particular, Cyber Monday saw a whopping 50% more shoe bargains than Black Friday, and 43% more offers on clothing.
While it may seem counterintuitive to buy clothes and shoes- items that need to be an exact fit to be any use to the buyer- online, there are plus points. Cyber Monday is still a working day, meaning it makes sense to offer buyers discounts on smaller and more easily transportable and returnable goods, such as clothing.