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What Black Friday 2016 tells us about consumer spending habits

Once considered a tradition only of the United States, Black Friday has risen to become one of the busiest days in the calendar for UK retailers. Its appeal spans the sector, with consumers able to receive massive savings on everything from furniture and electrical items to experiences like holidays in the sun.

Consumer brand giant Qubit recently announced that Black Friday traffic in 2016 was up a staggering 220% in the UK and US when compared to your average Friday. It certainly makes sense, as companies spend months preparing and promoting the best Black Friday deals – deals that they hope will ultimately blow their competitors out of the water.

There’s no questioning the popularity of this annual event. The growing trend for turning Black Friday into Black Friday Weekend is only evidence of that, with some retailers going a step further and extending their deals into Cyber Monday – named for its purpose of enticing more shoppers online.

So what exactly does the latest data from Black Friday 2016 show us about consumer spending habits here in the UK? Is this a trend that all retailers should be paying attention to? And if so, just how can they make the most of this boom in consumer spending?

The rise of online retail

Online shopping is nothing new. In fact, you’d have to go back as far as 1994 to witness the start of cars, bikes and pizza being sold on the internet (that’s right, Pizza Hut began their online ordering franchise a whopping 23 years ago). 1995 saw the introduction of online retail giants Amazon and eBay, setting the scene for e-commerce as we know it today.

As such, online spending has continued to grow year on year ever since. Black Friday is a good indicator of how the wider retail sector is looking, and this year saw a 25% increase in the number of online sales when compared to 2015. That’s in comparison to a drop in high street traffic of 7% – giving heed to the notion that the retail industry looks set to move even further online over the coming months.

Mobile shopping reigns in the UK

In 2016, more than 3 in 5 UK sales conversions took place on mobile during Black Friday weekend. In layman’s terms, for every 5 people that accessed their favourite retailer’s sites during the 5-day period, more than 3 of them made a purchase. That’s huge news and goes far in illustrating just how important it is for UK retailers to make their sites as mobile responsive as possible.

Black Friday and the travel industry

The travel industry was undoubtedly one of the biggest winners in 2016’s Black Friday weekend rush. In the US alone, the increase of bookings made on Cyber Monday jumped from 9% to 21%, giving weight to the claim that big ticket items and experiences are gradually becoming some of the most popular.

Such impressive statistics are likely to have a big impact on the travel industry, which will no doubt grow to become even more competitive once the Black Friday season begins its 2017 run.