An epic four-day splurge by consumers shopping online is expected to result in retailers breaking sales records. Between Black Friday last week and the close of Cyber Monday, shoppers will have spent more than £3bn, analysts believe.
Cyber Monday, like last week’s Black Friday, is an American-inspired phenomenon when US retailers offer discounts at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday season in a bid to kickstart a buying frenzy.
Research analyst Experian, in conjunction with IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retailers, is predicting that online sales for Black Friday will hit £1.07bn – up 32% on last year and the first time internet sales will have exceeded £1bn in a single day.
Online spending for Cyber Monday is forecast to total £943m – up 31% on the same day in 2014.
Retail giant Amazon reported record figures on Friday, saying it had sold more than 7.4 million items at a rate of around 86 items per second, its biggest sales day in the UK.
“For the second year straight, customers in the UK have blown us away with their response to the many great deals on great products that we’ve made available for Black Friday,” said Christopher North, managing director of Amazon.co.uk.
The belief that shoppers are increasingly moving online to grab a bargain appears to be borne out by figures from research firm PCA Predict, which found there was a 270% increase in e-commerce activity on Black Friday compared with the previous Friday. It said there had been a 16% rise in consumers going online this Black Friday compared with 2014.
But some companies appear to have been a victim of their own success. There were reports that some struggled to keep their websites up and running on Black Friday. John Lewis’s website went down at around 3.20pm. When one disgruntled customer telephoned to confirm an order lost online the retailer said that it was unable to take any orders and to call back in an hour.
Shoppers using the Argos website also experienced delays and consumers were confronted with a holding page saying “Oops… Sorry to hold you up”.
Multiple errors on the Tesco website were also reported, and between 10am and 11am the website slowed to an 8.4- second page load time. Tesco denied anything was wrong, saying on Twitter: “Our website is fully operational. We’re very happy with our site speed. Feedback from customers today has been very positive.” Other retailers singled out on social media for criticism of supposedly slow websites included fashion hub Boohoo.com, Boots, River Island and Debenhams.
Despite what are predicted to be record online sales, there are signs that the Black Friday hype is already starting to evaporate. Some chains have started stretching out the event over the course of a week, resulting in only a limited spike in their sales on key days. This year, for example, supermarket giant Asda opted not to participate.
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