Close this search box.

Black Friday dawns and Cyber Monday looms: retailers brace for busiest days of the year

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

Retailers have launched into Black Friday with a host of special offers. Meanwhile, the busiest online shopping day is yet to come, with Cyber Monday just around the corner.

Black Friday, the first Friday after the American holiday of Thanksgiving may be a US tradition, but it’s one that’s increasingly visible to UK shoppers this year. Traders with US roots, from Amazon UK to Costco and Walmart-owned Asda are all promoting Black Friday deals today. This year they are joined by more UK retailers, says Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays.

“The past few years have seen Black Friday gradually drift across the Atlantic, helped by the internet which has allowed the big name US retailers such as Amazon and Apple to target UK shoppers with the type of post-Thanksgiving deals offered to US consumers,” he said.

“Increasing numbers of British retailers are now using Black Friday as an opportunity to jolt consumers into spending by offering tempting deals and discounts.”

Figures from IBM show that online sales are already up on last year. On Monday November 25, IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark showed, online sales were up by 33.5% compared to the same Monday last year, with traffic from mobile devices accounting for 42.4% of all online traffic, 68% up on last year. Tablet users accounted for 19.5% of all sales, and smartphone users for 12.4%, with sales completed over mobile devices up by 81.5% on last year.

But the busiest day of the year is still expected to be Cyber Monday when, predicts the Centre for Retail Research in a study commissioned by, 6m UK shoppers are expected to spend £605m online in one day. That’s 16% more than at the same time last year. “A fifth of UK shoppers will do the majority of Christmas present shopping online this year (20 per cent) and we can expect to see retailers heavily ramping up their sales promotions to target next Monday’s online shoppers, capitalising on the trend of those turning online to make purchases,” said Marina McKeever, senior sales director at The study predicts that the biggest day for in-store shopping will be Saturday December 21.

The figure for on-the-day spending is up on the “over £500m” predicted by Sage Pay . “With just four weeks until Christmas, most of us will just have been paid, so Cyber Monday is traditionally the day when consumers rush online to do their Christmas shopping, said Simon Black, chief executive at Sage Pay. “But the way in which people go about this can drastically differ from person to person.

“Given the breadth of shopping and payment options available to consumers, competition between retailers is greater than it’s ever been. Plus, with an emphasis on omnichannel and a host of newer payment technologies beginning to make their mark, retailers can find it difficult to stay that one crucial step ahead of the trends.”

Visa Europe, on the other hand, predicted spending of £450m online this coming Monday. It’s set to be, says Visa, the “busiest online shopping day ever.” Jeremy Nicholds, director of commercial development at Visa Europe, said: “UK consumers’ love affair with online shopping will reach its peak on Mega Monday when we predict that we will process 7.7 million Visa transactions – a 16% rise on last year. Online shopping now accounts for more than 25% of spend with Visa in the UK, signifying the confidence that consumers have in the security of online payments and in the delivery of goods. With an average of £312,500 expected to be spent online every minute on 2nd December, the Christmas shopping season will certainly start with a bang!”

John Lewis expects to see traffic to its website peak on Sunday December 1. Mark Lewis, online director at the department store, said: “Our customers’ shopping habits have changed over the past few years, and our peak time for browsing and shopping on is now Sunday evening. With shoppers becoming more comfortable when purchasing via mobiles and tablets, coupled with better connectivity and the rise of smartphones so people can browse online through the day, it’s not surprising the way we shop has changed.”

Mountain Warehouse is expects its busiest ever weekend this weekend, and expects onesies will be its biggest selling line. The outdoor equipment retailer, which sells to more than 100 countries worldwide, said online sales hit £100,000 in a single day for the first time ever last Sunday, and were up by 147% year-on-year in the past month.

Founder and chief executive Mark Neale, who recently led the £85m management buyout of the business, said “We were a little late to the game in terms of online shopping, but we are now making great strides in playing catch-up.

“Customers clearly love the great deals in our stores but the web is helping introduce the brand to a much wider audience in the UK and, importantly, overseas.

“Online is now our biggest store, taking more than 10% of all our orders but, unlike many other retailers, we continue to open stores to meet customer demand.”

Online retailer Duvet & Pillow Warehouse is bracing itself for fast growth in its sales on Monday. Founder Charlie Hunt said: “This consumer trend has caused retailers to offer increasingly appealing discounts and incentives to their customers as they fight for their share of the market. These discounts and offers in turn lead to an even further increase in internet shoppers and sales. Last year we saw sales increase by 25% on Cyber Monday, spurring a very strong start to December, one of our strongest sales months. This year we’re hoping to see an even larger increase.”

Meanwhile, eCRM specialist RedEye predicts Cyber Monday will be the start of a £4.4bn pre-Christmas spending spree, starting today, in which 53% of shoppers will rush to buy rather than buying in the January sales, and 14% planned to spend more ahead of Christmas than they did last year. Some 48% of women said they would do all their Christmas shopping in November in order to take advantage of discounts, while 39% of men plan to do all their shopping at the last minute.

Some 30% of UK consumers plan to use their mobile device to do all of their Christmas shopping this year, with 56% of 18-24-year-olds planning to use their devices to research all their shopping before they buy. And 60% admit to checking in-store prices on their smartphone to see if they can find a better offer.

RedEye chief executive Mark Patron said the spending wouldn’t stop with Christmas, with December 25 expected to be a key shopping day. “As people unwrap their new tablets, phablets and smartphones on Christmas Day, retailers need to ensure they have a strategy in place to capitalise on the surge in mobile browsing activity as consumers use their shiny new tablets and gift cards to take advantage of the online sales,” he said.

But eBay‘s Tanya Lawler, VP of UK Marketplaces, said the Christmas countdown goes beyond a few key dates. “It’s not just about a few busy online shopping days any longer,” she said. “Ecommerce standards have evolved so that consumers expect faster delivery as well as options to pick their goods up locally if they want to. With local services like Click & Collect, people can shop online with confidence right up until 23 December and pick up in store on Christmas Eve which could have a big impact on online shopping times. On eBay, we’re expecting to see a longer peak shopping period running right up to Christmas week, including a double bubble of busy weekends. For retailers selling on eBay, the weekend of 7/8 December could be as big or even bigger than 30 Nov/1 December.”

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on