Black Friday has marked the start of the holiday shopping season for almost a century – ever since the Thanksgiving Day Parade held by modern-day Macy’s in 1924 – though the term itself was coined in the 1960s. And ever since, Black Friday has been one of the most popular shopping days of the year, with retailers offering heavy discounts to attract consumers.
But it seems Black Friday might actually be overshadowed by Cyber Monday, an extension of the popular shopping day created by online retailers, which has slowly expanded into Cyber Monday week.
Overall Retail Sales Lower Year-Over-Year
In-store sales weren’t quite as high as retailers expected for Black Friday, with many shoppers preferring to stay home and shop online rather than have to deal with the mad rush in stores. In fact, the overall retail picture doesn’t seem to be as positive, with sales across online platforms and physical stores reaching $50.9 billion, which is 11 percent lower than the $57.4 billion generated last year.
Some analysts believe that the main reason for the lower sales is the fact that Thanksgiving was later this year than last year, allowing for a shorter holiday selling season. Another reason cited for the deceleration was that, as evolving e-commerce tech makes online shopping easier for businesses and customers, many people chose to do their shopping on Cyber Monday rather than brave the rush expected in physical stores.
Cyber Monday Sets Record for Online Sales
This year’s Cyber Monday actually set a new record in terms of online sales, which reached $2 billion, making it the biggest level of online sales in one day in history. Sales over the holiday weekend, from Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday, increased by 15.4 percent over last year, while Cyber Monday sales increased by 15 percent.
In terms of segments, hi-tech products won on Black Friday, showing the greatest increase in sales at 480 percent over normal, whereas the beauty sector won out on Cyber Monday, with an increase of 450 percent.
Both days featured highly attractive deals across the board. For example, on Cyber Monday, consumers could purchase the iCreation Bluetooth Handset iPhone Dock at 80 percent off, with the price cut down from $249.99 to $49.99. The offer also included free shipping. On Black Friday, some of the best deals included 40 percent off Dell Inspiron 15” laptops and $100 off Apple iPad Air 2 16 GB tablets.
Will Cyber Monday Make Black Friday Redundant?
If one thing is for certain, there was no lack of great deals on either day. So, does that mean that Cyber Monday and the following week of deals will make Black Friday pointless?
Despite the record level of online sales on Cyber Monday, they still represent only a relatively small portion of overall sales. Furthermore, growth in online sales has decelerated slightly this year compared to previous years, with year-over-year growth being forecasted at 13 percent compared to 2013, when it was 15 percent.
This seems a relatively small difference, but it is the sign of a trend. A trend that says people aren’t quite ready yet to completely give up on physical stores. And while Cyber Monday week may attract a lot of shoppers, it’s likely to be a long while before it dethrones Black Friday.
Black Friday: A Cultural Phenomenon and a Tradition
Black Friday is more than just a day of shopping. It has become a cultural phenomenon that spans almost a century, so much so that even banks lowered their rates. As long as there are retailers willing to offer heavy discounts on Black Friday, there will certainly be plenty of consumers more than happy to part with their money on that day.
After all, it’s quite fulfilling to buy something and take it home on the same day, which is something online stores have yet to achieve on days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Until they do, and until they can offer people the experience of going out shopping – even with the mad rush, which is just another part of the experience – Black Friday will remain as popular as ever.