Black Friday – Cyber Monday: Online Retailers, were you shocked?

Legend has it that were the first to bring Cyber Monday to the shores of the Irish internet, back in the mists of 2013. This year, far more companies jumped on board, and watched in frank amazement as stock flew from their shelves from Black Friday, through the weekend, to Cyber Monday.

Web servers begged for mercy and sites crashed while online consumers scrambled for great deals and deep discounts. It was an incredible weekend of trading, and it looks like this import is here to stay.

Reports from (frankly knackered but elated) ecommerce managers were hugely positive. One business reported more revenue in the 4 days of the weekend than they saw for the entire preceding three months. Others saw 10% of their annual turnover come through the checkout, while one manager reported seeing their next best sales day beaten 8 times over with only 50% more traffic.

It looks like the consumer appetite for these deals before Christmas is enormous. To satisfy it and make sales, retailers were discounting a minimum of 10% and sometimes up to 50% (to match U.S. level discounting) and occasionally bundling already great deals with free shipping. So there was understandable concern about eroding margins, the impact on sales in the lead up to Christmas, and the potential of damaging trading in the traditional post-Christmas sales.

In short, the effect of this massive sale remains to be seen. However, my feeling is that, in the short term at least, the Black Friday / Cyber Monday ‘deep-discount’ customer is a different one from the standard gift-buying customer and the post-Christmas bargain hunter, so I expect to see continuing good trading in the run up to Christmas, and a small effect if any on the post-Christmas sales. But it will be interesting to watch the actual outcome unfold.

The Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales are a brand new concept to many retailers. Imagine suggesting a sale before Christmas twenty years ago, you might well have been taken for a fool. But the phenomenon is here to stay…

Did you take part? How was it for you?

Gerard Keohane
Gerard Keohane |