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A Brit’s guide to ‘Cyber Monday’

Posted on November 28, 2016

 

If you haven’t been reminded already, today is ‘Cyber Monday’ – a day online retailers use to promote their best deals and attract the swathes of people who are happy to shop through their computers, tablets and phones rather than head out to the busy shops in the run-up to Christmas. But why is it on this particular day, how long has it been a ‘thing’, and why do we have it in the UK?

Ordering a Cyber and Black

The obvious and short answer to “where did Cyber Monday come from?” is of course America. Along with ‘Black Friday’, it’s an example of how retailers have maximised their opportunities over the Thanksgiving period.

Thanksgiving Day itself always falls on a Thursday, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the Friday and Monday immediately after it. They’re not holidays in the U.S., but they’re a sort of add-on to the Thanksgiving celebration that act as a reminder that Christmas is well and truly on its way, and allow retailers to offer discounted prices to organised and money-conscious shoppers looking to beat the December rush.

Statistics from comScore show just how powerful a date Cyber Monday is across the Atlantic, with almost $2.3bn (£1.85) spent online on Cyber Monday 2015. This was a hefty 12% more than in 2014, although that was a comparatively low growth when you look at the 22% recorded in 2011.

When did Cyber Monday start?

The American National Retail Federation’s Senior Vice President, Ellen Davis, is credited with inventing the term in 2005. A New York Times article from that year notes that on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a lot of Americans would head back into the office perhaps still in holiday mode and with an eye on Christmas, and help themselves to a spree of online shopping courtesy of their employers’ internet connection.

The day has experienced year-on-year growth ever since, helping American e-retailers get a jump start on what had previously been seen as the online shopping peak period of December 5 to 15.

But why do we have it in the UK?

Mainly because we’re obsessive online shoppers over here. Whether it’s because we’re a nation of web-savvy, technology-embracing visionaries, or just because we don’t like crowded shops and our rubbish November weather, online shopping in the UK continues to be a phenomenal success.

A 2014 study by Ofcom revealed that the UK had a more valuable online retail market than any other developed country, spending £1,968 per head during the year. This dwarfed second-placed Australia’s £1,356, while our American friends languished in third (£1,171).

Last year, GlobalWebIndex found that of the internet-using population, Germany had slightly more online shoppers than the UK (72% or 67%), but Brits were still the second biggest cybershoppers in Europe, with Ireland just behind (66%) and the U.S. nowhere to be seen in the world’s top 10.

So, while Thanksgiving is never likely to make much of an impact on these shores, it seems like the behaviour of ordinary Americans in the days that follow it mirrors that of Brits. We’re both getting a little bit excited and panicky about the festive season. We both love a bargain, especially in these times in which the Recession has hit both nations hard and the recovery has been slow, and now the economic uncertainty on both sides of the pond has been exacerbated by Brexit and Donald Trump. The only difference is that we seem to like online shopping a little bit more than them!

With £6.77bn expected to be spent online between November 21 and today, British businesses, whether they have an online retail facility or not, need to realise and harness the power of a professional, attractive and user-friendly website. If you worry that yours isn’t up to scratch, be sure to speak to the Engage Web team.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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