Traditionally, Boxing Day has been the day of the year that fills every shopper’s heart with joy and sales assistant’s with dread. But it won’t have escaped the attention of even the least discerning marketer that, in the last few years US shopping habits have started to make their way across the pond. According to digital consultancy Salmon, Black Friday sales look set to top £1bn in 2015. Looking at affilinet data, we wanted to see how Black Friday compares to other key Christmas retail days…

The first thing that stood out was that it shows a rapid increase in total orders on Black Friday in 2014 (up some 203% on 2013) compared to the two previous years. What’s more, it now totally outstrips Boxing Day, which itself increased 36%, and Christmas Day (80%). Meanwhile Cyber Monday grew by 95%.

Black Friday 1

So it seems like a given that we’re going to see record sales in the UK on the 27th of this month. This isn’t the whole story though. Marketers will be interested to see when during the day  orders are placed, and the types of devices they are being placed on.

Black Friday 2

Last year, the number of orders shot up later in the day on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is presumably down to the fact that most people are at work on these days and completing their purchases once back at home.

However, as an overall percentage of orders, the figures remain relatively consistent across the four days tracked, with the exception of Cyber Monday, where we can see 30% of orders being placed between 21:01 and 00:00. The difference here, when compared to Black Friday, could be down to the fact that whereas on Friday evenings many people make social plans, fewer are out and about on a Monday night and have capacity to purchase. It seems that although consumers are increasingly making use of mobile devices to make and influence purchases, they’re doing it in a way that fits around daily routines that aren’t being impacted a great deal.

Black Friday 3

Desktops are still the most common means for consumers to complete an online purchase, particularly on Black Friday, but there is a relatively consistent split on the other days affilinet tracked – Cyber Monday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day – between desktops, and mobiles/tablets combined.

Black Friday 4

Interestingly, sales on tablets increase each evening after 6pm, taking the predominant share of sales away from desktop. Meanwhile, the most popular time of day for sales on mobile devices is between 6:00 and 9:00 in the morning. This is further evidence that consumers are choosing to fit sales shopping around their daily routines, browsing on their phone while they are commuting to work or school, and potentially ‘second screening’ with tablets while back at home. For brands, these are important trends to recognise as they can help shape ad campaigns to target consumers through different mediums at very specific times of the day.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a US Thanksgiving tradition become the UK’s busiest shopping period in the calendar, and it’s completely changing the way retailers and brands plan for and organise promotional activity in the run up to and over the Christmas period.

When you factor in the different devices that consumers are shopping on, and indeed the channels – such as social media – that they are being influenced by, you begin to understand how incredibly complex the eCommerce landscape has become. Tablets and mobile are enabling sales that otherwise wouldn’t be happening because people are still able to go to work and fit shopping around their daily routines.

Marketers need to not only recognise the key times they should be landing offers in consumers laps, but also consider how that offer is arriving there. Remember, just because a consumer isn’t completing a sale on a mobile device, doesn’t mean it’s not having an impact on their motivation to complete a purchase.

All the evidence is pointing to Black Friday being bigger than ever this year, and marketers who deal with publishers, should equip their appointed networks with the tools they need to help promote their brand easily and effectively during what is now the biggest shopping day of the year.

Richard Greenwell

Richard Greenwell


Richard Greenwell, Publisher and Data Strategy Director, affilinet.