Black Friday? What’s that all about?

Black Friday and Cyber MondayChristmas shopping season is about to really get into gear.  Black Friday (November 25th) and Cyber Monday (28th) book-end a long weekend of huge online discounts aimed at tempting Christmas shoppers. 

These two imports from the USA – the Friday after Thanksgiving and the Monday that follows – combine heavily discounted ‘physical’ shopping ins-store with widespread online deals.

And now are beginning their Black Friday over a week earlier than the ‘official’ day, by featuring special offers online on large-ticket and luxury products every day now until 25 November.

Record-breaking sums spent

According to the Experian and IMRG index, a record-breaking £3.3billion was spent in total over the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2015.

£1.1billion was spent on Black Friday 2015 and £968million on Cyber Monday (up 34% on 2014).  But activity continued throughout the whole weekend – £561million on the Saturday, £676million on the Sunday. Evidently, interest and spending was evenly spread over the entire four-day period, and not just on the heavily publicised days.

Why are Black Friday and Cyber Monday so popular?

It’s the busiest pre-Christmas time of the year for internet shoppers, and it neatly follows many people’s final payday before Christmas. So enough people feel flush with disposable income to be able to do their online Christmas shopping now, in good time to get it delivered.

The rise of ‘click & collect’ services, and a greater trust in retailers being able to deliver well in time for Christmas, has also resulted in a trend for many people being more comfortable leaving their Christmas shopping until a Monday later.

What’s the difference between them?

Initially Black Friday was in-store, in shopping malls and high streets, and Cyber Monday was online only. However, there is essentially no difference these days, with almost every major retailer having an online presence.

On Black Friday in 2014 a handful of well-known retailers had to bring in extra staff to cope with the rush, while cameras filmed shoppers fighting over discounted TVs –  in some cases police even had to be called.

5 tips if you are doing your Christmas shopping online:

  1. To help avoid the risk of identity theft, it’s best to use websites that you know and trust.  Always look for a security padlock icon in the top left hand corner of a page before you register financial or personal information on a website. And if an online deal you find, or have been emailed, sounds too good to be true, it quite probably is.
  2. Keep pins and passwords private – It may sound obvious but use strong passwords, especially if you have stored payment details, and it’s a good idea to change them every now and then. It’s best not to use obvious words and dates, such as your birthday, pets’ or children’s names- and never give account details to anyone else.
  3. If possible, install the latest anti-virus and firewall software.  If you’re out and about, make sure you can’t be overlooked when you make a mobile payment – be especially careful around wi-fi, even at home.
  4. Keep an eye on your bank and credit card account balances. Your credit report can also show you if there are any irregularities, such as suspect applications for credit and rises in card balances. As a CreditExpert member you can get unlimited views of your Experian Credit Report and alerts to certain changes so you can potentially spot fraudulent activity.
  5. Buying on credit can give you protection. If you buy goods or services on your credit card, you have extra protection if things go wrong compared with paying by cash or even debit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

One final tip: After you’re all shopped out, don’t forget what you’ve spent! Try to stay within your credit limits and try to pay your credit bills on time. Missed or late payments stay on your Experian Credit Report for at least six years, and this could have a big impact on your future ability to get credit. If you can’t make the minimum payment, speak to your lender as soon as possible.

(original version of blog Nov 25, 2014)

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