With Christmas fast approaching, there are two days that really stand out within the online calendar – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For those that don’t know, Black Friday is a US phenomenon that has grown in popularity in the UK in recent years. It falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving and is a period when retailers offer heavy discounts across their product range. Cyber Monday is the Monday following Black Friday – with many advertisers having offers in place across the whole weekend. In the UK we are more familiar with the term ‘Mega Monday’ which is the first Monday in December. As with last year, this coincides with Cyber Monday this year.

As in previous years, we are keen to put forward our predictions for this busy period. Here are our five predictions for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2015:

New advertisers getting involved

Advertisers that haven’t participated in this event in previous years have plans in place to launch exceptional offers to take advantage of the growing trend.

A poll in Retail Week last week suggested that 43% of online advertisers will be running deals on Black Friday.

Retail Week also reported that Sainsbury’s will be offering deals on Black Friday for the first time ever and many other retailers are set to follow.

Advertisers that are not running offers at this time are missing out on a huge opportunity and could lose customers to competitors that are.

With huge press coverage of Black Friday could we see consumers holding off on purchasing their Christmas gifts? November’s early data for the network has been positive but more generally could greater awareness push the online Christmas rush later and later?

Black Friday to be the biggest yet

This ties in with the previous point. Black Friday is becoming an established fixture in the UK retail calendar. Last year we really saw this take off for the first time and it is expected to be even bigger than before. With new advertisers keen to take advantage of the additional attention and consumer awareness of the deals to be had growing, Black Friday looks certain to cement itself further in the UK online shopping calendar.

This is a point echoed by John Lewis. Last month John Lewis boss Andy Street stated: “Black Friday (last year) was huge and I’m convinced it will be even bigger this year.”

Online Director Mark Lewis added that Black Friday was John Lewis’ biggest ever day online and twice as big as the previous record. Traffic was an astonishing 14 times higher between 7-8am than the department store had ever witnessed before.

Traditionally across the network we have seen activity peak on Cyber Monday, but this could potentially be the first time we see Black Friday surpass this.

Mobile traffic to overtake desktop

Traffic originating from a mobile device has ramped up considerably over the past few months. At its peak, we are currently seeing 47% of traffic originating from a mobile device. While this peak is typically seen at weekends, Black Friday is well positioned to finally breach the 50% mark. This trend in traffic is being driven by smartphones with almost a quarter of all traffic originating from a handset at its peak.

The share of mobile sales is a little behind (peaking at 40%) which is predominantly driven by tablets. While we may be a little way off hitting 50% of sales, we expect to also see the share of mobile sales increase over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

With the launch of larger screen phones or ‘phablets’ and wearable technology, the way consumers interact with these devices could see a shift in purchasing habits. For example, larger screen phones could be used less as a phone and more as a tablet. It will be interesting to see if this leads to smartphones outstrip tablets in terms of sales as well as traffic. Smarter categorisation of the devices originate will also be necessary.

Additional peaks later in the month 

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are seen as the key dates in the online calendar, we can also expect to see additional spikes later in December. With last delivery dates getting later and later and click and collect services becoming increasingly popular, last minute shoppers are also able to take advantage of strong offers.

We expect to see additional peaks pre-Christmas and the traditional spike on Boxing Day. With advertisers launching their New Year sales often before you have unwrapped your Christmas presents, Boxing Day presents an opportunity for consumers to pick the presents they actually wanted for themselves: an interesting trend to watch.

We expect to see mobile play a strong role in post-Christmas activity. With a number of devices given as presents, consumers are keen to activate them as soon as possible. If we don’t exceed 50% of mobile traffic pre-Christmas, we would certainly expect to on Christmas Day/Boxing Day

High average order values as consumer confidence grows

Last year we saw average order values for this period outstrip what we saw in 2012 (up 17% on Cyber Monday) as consumer confidence in the economy increased. We expect this to increase even further this year.

Due to the heavy discounting over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend average order values are likely to be lower than the rest of the month, yet we still expect them to be above what we witnessed last year. Typically Black Friday has been focused on higher ticket, electrical items which logically boosts AOVs. 

We will be reviewing our performance over this period in the next few weeks so be sure to check back to see if how accurate our predictions were, and if you would like to see how we performed across the network last year, we produced a white paper and infographic of our results.