How Big is Black Friday to UK Businesses?

Now an international phenomenon, Black Friday started in the USA – occurring the day after Thanksgiving Day. It’s also now expanded to encompass the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday.

In the UK, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Despite this, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming increasingly important days in the UK retail calendar.

In this article we’ll put Black Friday into context for UK retailers by comparing it against the biggest shopping event in our calendar: Christmas.

The data – what we looked at

To make this assessment, we looked at the number of card transactions we recorded on each of the key dates – Black Friday (the 4th Friday in November), Cyber Monday (the Monday after that) and then the two biggest spikes around the Christmas period (the 23rd and 24th of December).

For Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we pulled transaction volumes for the 12 previous Fridays and Mondays respectively. This allowed us to see how Black Friday and Cyber Monday compare to a normal Friday and Monday in terms of number of transactions. For Christmas, we pulled data for the 2-week period around the busiest Christmas shopping dates – 16/12 to 31/12. This gave us a baseline to compare each of these spikes against.

Finally, we pulled the data for both 2015 and 2016. This allowed us to compare these numbers year on year, meaning we could assess how each of these shopping events is growing and also how the average transaction volumes have grown.

Christmas is number 1

It will probably come as no surprise that out of all the periods we looked at, Christmas shows the highest volume of card transactions.

For 2015, we recorded 463,000 card transactions on Wednesday 23/12 and 459,000 on Thursday 24/12. These figures were both around 40% higher than the average for card transactions across the 2-week period reviewed.

2016 showed even higher figures, with 601,000 transactions on Saturday 23/12 and 543,000 on Sunday 24/12. These figures were 48% and 34% above the average respectively.

These numbers are significantly higher than the previous year – a 29% increase for the 23rd and an 18% increase for the 24th.

You might expect this to be due to the 23rd and 24th falling on a weekend, and while that may have had a positive impact on the transaction numbers, it seems there is a more general upward trend at work here.

The average number of transactions across the 2-week period was 329,000 in 2015 but this increases by 22% to 404,000 when we look at 2016. We’ll see this trend repeated – year on year the average transaction volumes have gone up, with these spikes then pushing higher and higher.

How do Black Friday and Cyber Monday compare?

It’s worth saying out of the gate that Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t compete with Christmas in terms of sheer volume of transactions. However, they are still significant spikes over the average numbers of transactions on their respective days and therefore represent an opportunity for UK business owners.

In 2016, we recorded 404,000 card transactions on Black Friday. This transaction volume was 10% higher than the average for the previous 12 Fridays. Cyber Monday shows a similar uplift – while it only tracked 271,000 transactions, this is still 10% higher than the average for the 12 previous Mondays.

Perhaps more importantly, both of these days are making significant gains year on year. In 2015 there were 329,000 transactions on Black Friday, growing by 22% in 2016 (coincidentally, very similar figures to the increases we saw in the 2-week period around Christmas). We see similar figures for Cyber Monday – there were 217,000 transactions in 2015, meaning 2016 showed 24% growth in transaction volumes.

An opportunity worth taking

Some UK businesses underestimate the significant spike that’s occurring on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As we’ve demonstrated above, it’s certainly true that it’s not as big a shopping event as the last few days before Christmas – but at the same time, we’re still seeing a large uptick in card transaction volumes on these dates.

What’s more significant is the continuing growth year on year. In all likelihood, we will see the volume of card transactions increase again for these days in 2017. Furthermore, there is increasing expectations from consumers that there will be Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to be found. This means they’re looking for somewhere to spend money – it may as well be your business that gives them the offer they’re looking for!

Make sure your tech is up to the task

When it comes to the Black Friday rush, the Cyber Monday deal hunters or the huge influx of Christmas shoppers, you need to make sure you’re prepared with tech that isn’t going to let you down.

Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about how we can make sure your business is equipped with everything you need.