Black FriYay or FriNay; Is e-commerce the beginning of the end for Black Friday?

We all love a bargain, and with the cost-of-living crisis in full force we’ve never been more grateful for a steal. But even with the crisis biting, Black Friday spending is predicted to drop drastically in 2022 and beyond.

The popularity of Black Friday sales has dropped significantly in recent years, with many industry watchers having said that Black Friday has been losing its relevance with shoppers. Spending across the UK is estimated to drop by more than £850 million (18%) this year.

But why is this happening? Is the rise of e-commerce to blame for the demise of Black Friday, or is there another cause to blame?

The Decline of Black Friday

New research conducted by Finder reveals that Brits are predicted to spend an average of £189.59 per person across Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. This figure shows a 31% reduction from 2021, where shoppers spent an average of £275 per person. Overall, Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending in the UK is estimated to decrease from £6 billion in 2020 and £4.8 billion in 2021 to just £3.9 billion in 2022.

In 2022, 46% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers have said they intend to make their purchases online only, while just 10% will shop in store exclusively. Despite this, the average spend of those shopping in-store is expected to be higher than those online, with in-store shopping set to reach approximately £174 per person, compared to £167 per person online.

In-store spending has dropped significantly this year compared to last, with the average shopper spending around £96 less. This represents a 36% decrease from 2021, where the average in-store shopper was expected to spend around £270 each. Online-only shoppers have also reduced their spending this year by 19%, with the average online shopper spending around £40 less online than they would have in 2021 (£207).

Shopping Trends

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Oct – Nov 97m 111m 48m 38m 32m
Nov – Dec 5.4m 8.5m 81m 45m 42m

Searches for Black Friday by the million across the past 5 years.

The data shows that after 2018, searches for Black Friday are more prevalent between October and November than November to December. We can also see a huge decrease in searches since 2018.

Source: Glimpse + Google Trends

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for e-commerce transactions that occur on the Monday after Black Friday and was created by retailers as an incentive to encourage more people to shop online.

This chart provided by Google Trends displays the difference between Black Friday searches and Cyber Monday searches. From this graph we can see while searches for Black Friday (blue) have decreased drastically in the last few short years, Cyber Monday (red) sales have never reached a comparable number of searches as Black Friday. This data suggests that searches for e-commerce are an unlikely opponent for those of Black Friday.

Source: Google Trends

Marketing Tactics

There are many brands who participate in Black Friday in their own unique way. In 2021, Pretty Little Thing put their own spin on Black Friday, creating ‘Pink Friday’ – a content marketing strategy that lasted weeks running up to Christmas rather than just the one day. At various points, the retailer was noted selling clothes less than £1. Needless to say, the promotion was a huge success for sales.

Amazon is the world’s biggest e-commerce retailer and unsurprisingly, storms the Black Friday supremacy. Known as the unofficial ‘King of Black Friday’, Amazon reigns over Black Friday every year with amazing sales, deals that run for eight consecutive days, and impressive bundles. In fact, it was Amazon that introduced Black Friday to the UK, integrating the holiday to the British retail scene.

How to stand out

With so many brands participating in Black Friday campaigns, retailers must create an eye-catching and unique promo code. River Island stepped up to the mark by creating an attractive and colourful deign. On top of discounts on products, the retailer also offered free delivery on orders over £75. The offer of free delivery encourages the consumer to make additional purchases they might not have made to qualify for services like free delivery.

Last year, Zaful implemented many marketing strategies when facing the Black Friday holiday, and to great effect. Offering promo codes, conditional discounts, and an additional discount for students. Offering several discounts at various price points created a dynamic where the consumer felt as though they had many opportunities to save money, and therefore created a longer overall engagement time with the company’s site.

What do the experts think?

When considering whether Black Friday is still a noteworthy occasion or has in fact been made redundant, we wanted an expert’s opinion. We spoke to Chris Slade, expert consultant at Wunderman Thompson Commerce.

“While the cost-of-living crisis and the expected recession are likely to make this Black Friday a more muted affair than years past, it is far from redundant, and retailers should prepare to see a lift in traffic and sales. End of year peak shopping is always an eagerly anticipated period for shoppers looking to splurge – whether that’s on items they’ve been putting off buying due to financial pressures or gifts for the holiday season.

“Providing real ‘value’ will be a major theme this year, and retailers will need to emphasise how deals and offers can save them money if they are to tempt more cautious shoppers. Price competition will be a factor as well, with the expectation of more ‘last chance’ and ‘limited stock’ deals aimed at triggering purchases through ‘shopping FOMO’.

To better understand Black Friday from a retailer’s perspective and discover how they will be engaging with the holiday, we spoke to Liz McGreevy, Co-founder of sustainable fashion brand Re_Threads.

“We at Re_Threads will be opting out of Black Friday, instead looking to honour the craft that has gone into our products and the message we portray, which is to invest in quality to buy less.”

“Our feelings are people having less money due to the cost of living will be a reason to harness the offerings of Black Friday. But brands will look to those who are looking to do things differently, those looking to give back, instead of taking, and those investing in quality long lasting products to help reduce their carbon footprint.”

“The cost-of-living crisis paired with the environmental crisis we are facing as a planet; it feels like the Black Friday concept is the antithesis of where we should be heading as both a business and also as stewards of our planet.”

The popularity of Black Friday has been on a downward trajectory since 2019 and is estimated to continue to decline. Although Black Friday is no longer as popular as it once was, it could still be considered ‘a thing’ with a high online engagement rate and predictions for spending. Despite the fall of Black Friday, the traditional holiday has seen triumph over searches for Cyber Monday.

Picture of Laura Rudd

Laura Rudd

I’ve worked in digital and content marketing for over 20 years, specialising in SEO since its inception. My career has spanned both agency-side and in-house roles, working alongside brands like HomeServe, Taking Care, Checkatrade, and My expertise centres on SEO and content marketing, where I’m passionate about audience-first strategies that drive long-term organic performance.

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