There was huge anticipation ahead of the biggest shopping weekend of the year from shoppers and retailers alike. As we begin to look back at the weekend we can now see that the way consumers shopped differed wildly between 2014 and 2015, with this year seeing fewer purchases in store but a huge jump in online sales. 

With this in mind, affilinet pulled data from its extensive network of brands and publishers to drill down and reveal what has changed about the way consumers approach the biggest shopping weekend of the year. 

Over the past three years Black Friday has exploded in the UK however, 2015 has seen the number of visitors to shopping sites decrease on the eagerly awaited Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This isn’t a sign that the big shopping days are on their way out, but instead points to consumers embracing a weekend of deals, choosing to browse on the Saturday and Sunday. 

Beyond the initial Friday rush, websites saw a steady stream of traffic over the four day period. This, coupled with the fact that many retailers extended deals over a longer period, indicates that the idea of a one day blow out is falling out of favour with consumers and businesses alike.

This may also be an underlying reason behind a significant improvement in sales conversion rates on the two major sales days. The frustration of last year, with popular websites crashing under the weight of sales day traffic, may have accounted for lower conversion rates. It is likely that a more consistent stream of traffic together with retailers taking measures to ensure their sites were able to deal with spikes in traffic, allowed customers to complete the buying process and significantly increase conversions in comparison to 2014.

Not only when, but how consumers approach online shopping is changing. 2015 has seen an increase in the number of purchases made over mobile devices, with desktop transactions declining in comparison to 2014. Over the Black Friday weekend, over 40% of all orders were made via mobile devices with the number of purchases via smartphones increasing by 6%, perhaps explained by the increasing size of smart phone screens. With the volume of transactions made over tablets also increasing, retailers should be reminded that it is vital to make sure websites are optimised not just for smartphones, but all mobile devices. 

For retailers, Black Friday was a resounding success with orders in the UK soaring by 48% across the weekend.  Prepared retailers and customers ready to take advantage of a longer period of deals have transformed Black Friday and Cyber Monday from a one day wonder into a four day shopping fest that improves the experience for both shoppers and retailers.