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The rise and rise of Black Friday: mobile set to overtake desktop

Ian Begent-Cove
24 November 2017

As we are in the midst of another Black Friday, the world of e-commerce is braced for what is expected to be the biggest year for UK sales to date. And, with the trend for more consumers choosing online over instore rising year-on-year, 2017 may also mark the first year mobile sales overtake desktop purchases.

In 2016, high street footfall fell by 7% whereas online sales jumped up by 25%, which suggests the UK is unlikely to see the endless in-store queues of 2014 again.

Amazingly, while it may already seem a part of British Christmas tradition, Black Friday only started appearing over here back in 2010, despite the US holding its version of the annual sale since the 1960s.

It’s worth noting it may not have become a UK staple were it not for retailers like Amazon and its trailblazing online sale seven years ago. The retail giant trounced the competition in 2010 by offering the latest Take That and Susan Boyle CD albums for just £1, which was well below the average price on the high street set at £8.93.

The move caused some to heap criticism on Amazon, as the CDs sold out in seconds, leaving hundreds of angry music lovers unable to get hold of the titles. However, this pioneering move by Amazon started a trend, as from 2011 onwards, the majority of major brands in the UK hosting their own Black Friday sales, which have become an important fixture in the UK’s shopping calendar.

Mobile sales surge

It’s looking likely that 2017 will be the first year where Black Friday sales via mobile devices overtake desktop, with research earlier this year revealing the staggering growth of mobile sales. Last year saw a 26% increase in mobile sales, with 43% of all online purchases originating from smartphones and tablets, so even just an 8% rise this year will see mobile triumph.

And, if you feel like annual Black Friday sales seem to get earlier each year, you’re absolutely right. Extending Black Friday not only allows shoppers a bigger window to score the best deals but boosts overall sales and reduces the risk of a website crash.

Looking back at 2016, the UK spent a massive £1.23bn on Black Friday itself, but that figure is nothing compared to the staggering £6.45bn spent across the entire week. Time will tell whether mobile will indeed snag the lion’s share of online Black Friday sales this year, but with smartphones getting smarter and brands streamlining the mobile experience for users, it might be a safe bet.

Ian Begent-Cove is a buyer and online merchandiser at Watch Shop.

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