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    Black Friday, the annual shopping extravaganza, has once again swept across the retail landscape, leaving consumers with bargains and retailers with soaring sales figures. During Black Friday, we hunted the digital landscape for the best statistics on how the day played out, numbers that we’ve collected, refined and have analysed just for you, our loyal readers.

    New findings from PwC indicate a decline in online interest for Black Friday, dropping from 61% in 2022 to 44% this year. Google Trends data supports this trend, showing that the search term ‘Black Friday’ is now less than half as popular as it was four years ago. As we reflect on the shopping frenzy that unfolded on Black Friday 2023, let’s investigate how emerging trends affected consumer behaviour throughout the weekend.

    Did consumers shop online this Black Friday?

    In a world increasingly shaped by digital experiences, online shopping continues to dominate Black Friday. CommerceHub, a specialist in ecommerce software, reported an 18% surge in the total gross merchandise value on Black Friday 2023 across major retail marketplaces.

    Among CommerceHub’s tracked marketplaces on Black Friday 2023, eBay claimed the top spot in gross merchandise sales, followed by Amazon, Asos, Shopify, Back Market, John Lewis, Magento, Debenhams, JD Sports, and Secret Sales.

    John Lewis disclosed a notable 31% increase in sales on Black Friday 2022, with toys emerging as one of the top-selling product categories as parents prepared for Christmas.

    While comprehensive Black Friday sales updates from most UK retailers are pending, fresh insights from the data intelligence platform Similarweb shed light on the websites that experienced the highest traffic in the UK on both desktop and mobile on the day.

    According to Similarweb’s findings, the notable winners in comparison to 2022 were Temu, exhibiting a remarkable 74,150% increase in web traffic (largely attributable to its recent establishment in 2022), Sephora with a 132% surge as the brand hits the UK, Moonpig with a 48% increase, and Debenhams with a rise of 46%.

    Did customers shop on mobile during Black Friday?

    Mobile devices played a pivotal role in the success of Black Friday 2023, with over 50% of online sales originating from smartphones and tablets and mobile searches containing “Black Friday” increased by 80% over the past two years. The ease of shopping on the go, coupled with mobile-exclusive deals and apps, has solidified mobile devices as the preferred choice for consumers during the holiday shopping season.

    Adobe Analytics discovered that on Black Friday, smartphones contributed to $5.3 billion in online sales, marking a 10.4% increase from the previous year. Smartphones constituted 54% of total online sales, with enhanced shopping experiences facilitating easier mobile device purchases.

    Following a decline during the pandemic, shoppers enthusiastically returned to mobile purchasing, reaching an unprecedented peak, as indicated by Salesforce data. In 2017, mobile accounted for 61% of digital traffic, escalating to 75% in 2020 and further rising to 79% this year.

    Significant markdowns, especially in segments such as electronics, smartwatches, and televisions, played a crucial role in boosting sales, coupled with a general reduction in online prices leading up to the holiday season. Adobe reports that retail site prices in October were 6% lower than the previous year. According to Adobe, if not for this price deflation, the growth in online sales would have been even higher.

    Did people spend big this BFCM Weekend?

    Barclays (BARC.L), which sees nearly half of Britain’s credit and debit card transactions, said the volume of transactions on Black Friday was down 0.63% compared to 2022. This suggests the impact the cost-of-living crisis had on spenders, even with the urge to grab the best deals. However, Adobe Analytics noted an increase in spending for the Black Friday – Cyber Monday period with a total of £3.45 billion spent online in the UK, up 5.6% YoY.

    Cyber Monday witnessed an unprecedented surge in ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) usage, reaching a record-breaking $940 million in online spending in the US alone – a remarkable 42.5% year-over-year increase. Shoppers are not only adding more items to their carts, with a 11% YoY rise, but they are also leveraging BNPL for larger purchases, showcasing a trend towards greater flexibility in spending habits, which could follow through to the festive season.

    Cyber Monday featured varied discounts, especially in electronics, where prices plummeted by an impressive 31% (compared to 25% last year). Across the board, discounts were solid, with computers at 24%, televisions at 19% and apparel at 23%.

    While toys saw a slight dip at 27% (versus 34% last year), the good news is the deals continue beyond Cyber Week. During the festive season, discounts in appliances (up to 20% off), toys (15%), computers (16%), apparel (14%), and furniture (11%) are expected to continue in the early weeks of December.

    Did people hit the high-street for Black Friday?

    For the full Black Friday week , MRI said footfall rose 7.9% on the previous week and was up 2.0% on a year-on-year basis as shoppers took to the high-streets. Throughout the entire Black Friday week, we witnessed a 11.8% week-on-week surge in sales across high streets, shopping centres, and retail parks. In contrast to 2022, this performance is significantly more robust, given that footfall increased by a mere 3.2% week on week during the equivalent week last year.

    And with more customers thinking sustainably, more shoppers took to the high street to decrease emissions from online deliveries, grabbing their cost conscious deals in-store rather than scouring the internet.

    Fast fashion companies saw big decreases in response to online searches for the brands this Black Friday. Similarweb found that online traffic for PrettyLittleThing was down by 45% on 2022, Asos was down 43% and Boohoo was down 30%.

    There was also an uptick in consumer interest in sustainable and eco-friendly products. A growing awareness of environmental concerns has led consumers to make more conscious choices, and retailers responded by offering eco-friendly alternatives and highlighting their commitment to sustainability.

    So what next?

    Black Friday 2023 was a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of retail. From the dominance of online shopping to the record-breaking sales figures and the changing dynamics of consumer preferences, the statistics reveal a nuanced story of an industry in flux.

    We’re interested to see how this new consumer shopping behaviour plays out throughout the festive period and into Q1 2024. In fact, if you’re eager for some early insights, you can download our Big Christmas Stabook here, with key learnings for Q1 key sales periods.

    As we move forward, it will be intriguing to see how these trends shape the future of Black Friday and the wider retail experience. Keep an eye on our content through Q2 next year when we unveil our 2024 Black Friday strategy recommendations! 

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