In the News / Legal Topics

Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Has this week saved consumerism in time for Christmas?

2013_12_cyber-mondayWith images of shoppers fighting for this year’s must have products dominating the news cycle over the past weekend, the idea of shopping from the comfort of your home (or office desk) may be even more appealing. Throw into the mix some one-off, never to be repeated deals and unprecedented savings offers and you would expect demand to outstrip supply. But with sales starting ever earlier and sites like Amazon offering substantial discounts the whole year round, is the time for one day mega sales over?

Cyber Monday is typically the first Monday after Thanksgiving. For many around the world, this means the Monday after Black Friday, a day which seems to be recognised across the world if only to remember those ridiculous looking people climbing over their fellow shoppers and fighting in the aisles over the last remaining Harry Styles/Frozen/pregnant cat* doll.

Reports have suggested that across America, Black Friday sales have started to wane, with many already shopped out in the run up to the holiday season with ‘Black Friday’ sales starting as early as October in some stores. Or does that mean that consumers are biding their time, for Cyber Monday or even the post-Christmas sales.

Early indications were that the U.S. would see sales of $2.5 billion on Monday, with those in the UK varying between £600 and £680 million. These figures are not to be taken lightly, with Amazon UK recording its biggest ever day.

However, these figures pale in comparison to Singles Day in China. Now an annual event on 11 November, Ali Baba, the Chinese website which accounts for 80% of online sales, recorded $9.3 billion of sales this year. If that is to be believed. It is common knowledge in China that these ‘sales’ are artificially boosted by teams of tens of thousands of shoppers who are paid to buy and then return stock. Indeed, legitimate businesses exist to manage this service for online retailers.

Online shoppers are becoming increasingly streetwise, due in part to government campaigns to warn consumers about the risks of online shopping. Fraudulent traders, security breaches, incorrect product descriptions, high postage charges and complex returns procedures have all contributed to shoppers concerns about online spending this year.

That said, in the UK alone, it has been estimated that up to 2 million sole traders and small companies are missing out on an estimated £164 billion in sales because they do not have any presence online.  Banks and other companies such as Paypal are seeking to offer easy and affordable ways to encourage even the smallest of businesses to jump on to the online bandwagon and make the most of this year’s seasonal sales and all those in the coming years.

*delete according to year



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