Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

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A Little Backstory

First, there was Black Friday. The term was first used in the early 1950s, although it only became more widespread later on. Describing the day after Thanksgiving Thursday in the USA, Black Friday became known for massive deals on every product you can imagine. Today it’s officially regarded as the start of the festive shopping season, and is found in countries around the world. Then, there was Cyber Monday. This is the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, and was created to be a digital counterpart to the Friday sales. Now, although the days are still distinct, they’re increasingly blurring into one marathon, five-day deal bonanza. With a little insight and planning, you can find the best offers on different items each day. Let’s unpack the 2018 numbers as we consider the Black Friday (29 November) and Cyber Monday (2 December) of 2019.

Online Spending Volumes

In 2018, the overall online sales spends were $6.2 billion on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday. Considering that it’s the flagship online sales day, it makes sense that it’s a little ahead in this area. However, it should be noted that Friday is catching up fast; its 2018 year-on-year sales reflected an increase of 23.6%, while Monday’s year-on-year increase was lower at 19.7%. In fact,’s 2018 survey showed that 68% of Black Friday bargain hunters intended to make their purchases online. Mobile technology is also being used more; 56% of all fashion sales on both days were via smartphones. Increasingly, the tradition of lining up for hours before land-based stores opened their doors is falling away too. Just 15% of shoppers said they’d do this, while the remaining 17% said they would buy in-store but would go in later in the day.

What is Being Bought?

Sales for clothing and, surprisingly, tech, are the same for both days at 23% and 22% respectively. More people buy toys on Friday than on Monday, at 18% and 14% of the total respective spends. For smart home and gadgets as well travel purchases Monday comes out on top with 18% and 12%. On Friday, customers spend 14% and 9%. In light of these results, suggests you buy travel tickets on Monday, or of course on Travel Tuesday, which falls the next day. You’ll do fine with clothing on either day, although stores have started the practice of site-wide discounts (the same percentage off everything in the store) on Mondays. Deals on laptops and PCs are also likely to be a little better after the weekend. This is in contrast to other appliances and toys. Usually they start at their lowest price and are just sold until stock runs out. If you know what television, refrigerator, gaming console or Christmas toys you want to buy, snap them up as soon as you see a price you like. These days, you might even spot the offers on Thanksgiving Thursday itself.

Other Spending Habits

Black Friday is ahead of its Cyber counterpart when it comes to individuals’ budgets too. The average total amount spent in 2018 was $472, versus $457 on Monday. Having said that, Monday is ahead in terms of online traffic by 13% – which, once again, makes sense when you consider its origins. A closer look at how much money consumers are handing over shows Cyber Monday to be in the lead for the lowest amount, but behind Friday for all other totals:

  • Under $400: Black Friday – 61% of customers; Cyber Monday – 70% of customers
  • $400 - $800: BF – 21%; CM – 14%
  • $800 - $1200: BF – 8%; CM – 7%
  • Over 1200: BF – 10%; CM – 9%

Finally, people responded as follows when asked what day they prefer to do their holiday shopping on:

  • Black Friday: 31%
  • Cyber Monday: 22%
  • Thanksgiving Thursday: 15%
  • Free Shipping Day (held mid-December): 12%
  • Small Business Saturday (Saturday after Black Friday): 11%

What Does It All Mean?

How can we interpret the wisdom that these numbers bring us? Besides following the general advice of when to buy what purchases, it’s worth noting that the biggest purchasing booms are online. When you think about how much more convenient it is to shop this way, that makes total sense. The fact that Monday makes more sales under $400 than Friday might be because of its strictly cyber roots, but Friday is clearly more popular overall. Interestingly, as the amount of money spent goes up, the difference between the amounts spent on each day goes down. Basically, we can conclude that it’s human nature to enjoy buying things for yourself and others on any day of the week!

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