What does Black Friday tell us about the global state of retail? In 2017 this question could be harder to answer than ever before as the creep of offers starting ever earlier turns the second half of November into one long discounting event.

In 2016, the biggest year-on-year daily increase in the run up to and across the Cyber Weekend was the Monday preceding Black Friday and with one trade publication reporting that of more than 20 major brands running promotions, just two planned to start on Black Friday, it’s clear the retail landscape is continuing to reinvent itself on an almost annual basis.

What do this year’s November statistics tell us about this changing picture? Looking at sales generated across the entire Awin network until Weds 22nd, we can see performance is trending significantly up:

The 20% global increase on the Monday preceding Black Friday is possibly indicative of the increasing pressure on retailers to ensure they steal a march on the competition but also raises doubts about whether Black Friday could, at some point, run out of steam.

When sales’ revenue is factored in, the same Monday saw a 23% spike indicating that consumers are spending more per transaction, in fact more than €8 on average for every sale. Perhaps this is a consequence of deeper discounting encouraging greater spend or it could be due to the complexion of retailers driving the most sales.

Global variances are becoming ironed out across Black Friday, making it a truly universal affiliate event. This is an important hook for marketers in an industry historically noted for its vagaries and variances leading to issues around scaling affiliate programmes beyond their local territories.

What is clear from a series of interviews Awin carried out with brands across the various countries it runs programmes in, is Black Friday witnessed phenomenal growth last year and has rapidly cemented itself as an event that the channel is expertly placed to take advantage of.

Media exposure and attention has played a large role in promoting the concept of Black Friday to consumers in these countries. In The Netherlands, for example, BlackFridayNederland.nl was the first dedicated website for Black Friday and launched as recently as 2015. Its founder, Pablo Druijts, described the recent transformation in popular understanding:

“At the start of our platform you could notice that visitors were especially interested in the meaning of the concept of ‘Black Friday’… now the majority of them are therefore looking for offers and participating stores,” he said.

“The impact on our business has been enormous; our visitors increased by about 320% in November 2016 compared to November 2015 and we have seen our sales increase fivefold.”

For retailers in the US, Black Friday has a different significance as this year could be the day it overtakes Cyber Monday for the first time, marking a symbolic shift away from the traditionally in-store event following Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile in the UK brands will be nervously anticipating the Brexit effect and ironically looking to Europe and beyond to shore up their numbers.

Black Friday and the wider promotional window remains an event in flux and this year’s numbers will undoubtedly raise as many questions as it answers.

To help affiliate marketers make sense of the data this year, Awin will be launching a global report on Monday that will showcase the breadth and depth of Black Friday. The interactive data visualisation will also allow for localised insights across both the advertiser and publisher base.

We will also be live blogging the day from 8am on Friday where we hope to bring you insights across the day as it unfolds.