Originally posed on Huffington Post UK October 24, 2016
Black Friday this year is 25th November. For anyone yet unacquainted, it is the day after Thanksgiving Day in the US and the Friday before Cyber Monday. Retailers slash prices and queues form around corners. It is both a tradition, a crazy shopping day, and a public holiday in many US states — it also signals the starting whistle for the Christmas shopping period.
In the UK, at least up until a couple of years ago, the British Christmas shopping period started at a much more leisurely pace. Hardly anyone had heard of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. However, that all changed as Amazon and Walmart (Asda’s U.S. parent company) decided it was about time to share some of the retail love and run promotions in the UK.
Over the last few years, we’ve started to see more UK-based retailers clamour for a piece of the Black Friday action. John Lewis, Argos, Currys and ToysRUs, to name but a few, all compete fiercely alongside online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Last year alone, UK retail sales reached £3.3bn over that weekend. However, many retailers, whilst wanting to cash in on this new trend, weren’t prepared for a sharp increase in shoppers. There were significant problems both in stores and at online checkouts as servers couldn’t cope with demand and in-store bandwidth issues meant that checkout transactions were slow (sometimes impossible) to process. Scenes shown on the evening news were far from the image of traditional British shoppers forming an orderly queue!