We Explore Highlight’s and Lowlights from Retail’s Big Weekend.

This past Friday, we experienced the biggest Black Friday on record, as sales in store and online soared. According to Fiserv, brick-and-mortar sales grew 4.2% over last year while eCommerce jumped from $6.22 billion to a whopping $7.4 billion. Cyber Monday followed, breaking records once again with a staggering $9.2 billion in online sales. The National Retail Federation predicts a whopping $727.9-$730.7 billion in combined sales brick-and-mortar and eCommerce sales for this shortened holiday season, a growth of 3.8-4.2% overall.

Black Friday seems to have an ever-growing footprint, as retailers race to be the first to grab those holiday dollars. This year, that is especially true. With a shortened holiday season, the push to grab those dollars early is especially strong and consumers are also feeling the pressure to do more shopping in less time.

With all that on the table, there’s certainly a lot to unpack. Let’s take a look now at 3 highlights and 3 lowlights from last weekend’s events:

The Highlights

Mobile Sales Dial in Big Numbers

According to Adobe Analytics, 36% of eCommerce sales between November 1 and December 1 came via Smartphone, with even more coming on Black Friday. Last Friday, mobile sales accounted for $2.9 billion worth of the $7.4 billion dollar haul, or 39.1%.

This was the single largest day ever for mobile sales in the U.S. and an astonishing 45% year-over-year jump from 2018. “Was” being a key word. On Cyber Monday, smartphones accounted for an additional $3.1 billion dollars worth of sales, breaking Friday’s newly established record.

The trend will only continue to surge upward. In 2020, mComm is expected to grow even more, with mobile purchases expected to make up 49% of all eCommerce purchases.


Thanksgiving Numbers Are Gravy

Thanksgiving Day figures were even stronger on mobile, relative to Black Friday on a percentage basis, with 45% of those sales coming on mobile devices, up from 33.5% in 2018. After all, nothing washes down a slice of pumpkin pie like buying a new TV.

Black Friday has been creeping into Thanksgiving little by little over the past few years, thanks in large part to eCommerce. This year, those sales jumped by a healthy 14.5% overall to $4.2 billion on the day. To give a bit of perspective, Black Friday online sales for 2016 totaled $4.3 billion. So, Thanksgiving is not far behind. Though the $4.2 billion dollar actuals fell a bit shy of the $4.4 billion dollar projections, crossing the $4 billion threshold is a pretty big deal.

Black Friday: Not Just for America Anymore

While the aforementioned numbers only reflect U.S. sales, Black Friday is no longer just an American holiday – a fact some countries are more enthusiastic about than others, as the holiday is being met with some resistance in European countries. Elsewhere, Black Friday sales have grown 376% in Argentina over the last 5 years, while South Africans searched the term “Black Friday” more than any other country in the world this year, according to Google.

You can credit retail giants Amazon and Walmart, in large part, for the holiday’s spread on an international scale. Amazon first introduced Black Friday in the U.K. in 2010. Walmart, with their wide footprint, began offering Black Friday deals in South America in 2013. While these giants continue to lead the pack, other retailers have happily jumped on the train, though they all still pale in comparison to Alibaba’s Singles Day in China.

Nevertheless, both these mega retailers both had huge weekends on a worldwide scale. Friday, Walmart became the #1 shopping app in the U.S. on Black Friday for the first time ever, with 113,000 new downloads. This year-over-year growth of 23% demonstrates the massive strides Walmart has made on the eCommerce front in 2018. More huge news came from on Tuesday morning, when Amazon announced they sold more goods around the world this Cyber Monday than any other day in their existence.

The Lowlights

Political Opposition in France
Black Friday wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm in every corner of the world, particularly in France, where some legislators are moving to ban Black Friday. The movement, backed by French Cabinet Member, Elisabeth Bourne, cautions that the environmental cost of Black Friday sales are too great.

The combined effect of packaging waste, emissions from ecommerce delivery vehicles and the negative impact on traffic all contribute to the crisis, according to the holiday’s detractors. Furthermore, Black Friday heavily favors eCommerce giants, much to the expense of smaller businesses.

Protests Erupt in Europe

Black Friday faced pushback from activists on the streets in Europe, as well, who disrupted operations at Amazon facilities in France and Germany. In France, environmental activists supporting the aforementioned legislation took to the streets and blocked distribution vehicles from entering or exiting an Amazon facility outside of Paris. Protesters also attempted to form a blockade around a Paris shopping center and a logistics facility in Lyon. Video footage from the Lyon protest showed riot police dragging protesters away from the facility.

In Germany, hundreds of Amazon workers staged walkouts at six major distribution centers over pay disputes and poor working conditions. The strike, backed by the powerful Verdi union, demanded a new labor agreement ensuring “a living wage and good, healthy jobs.” Amazon has been hit with similar Black Friday strikes several times in recent years in Germany, Spain and Great Britain.

Buy Nothing Day Trends

Buy Nothing Day originated in the 1990’s, but growing concerns about the environment and anti-consumerism sentiment have caused it to surge again recently. Many activists decided to take to Twitter to express their distaste for the holiday, and share statistics about consumerism and its impact on the environment. Actress and activist Shailene Woodley showed her support for the cause, sharing a graphic from Green Peace and her own critique of Black Friday consumerism.

In a heartwarming story from Rhode Island, one group decided to celebrate “Buy Nothing Day” by offering warm winter coats to those in need. This year was the 23rd annual coat exchange, which is held at sites around the state on Black Friday every year. The event highlights the negative impact of consumerism while providing coats for those in need. The largest distribution site is located just steps away from Providence Place mall, where holiday shoppers flood in on Black Friday in search of a deal. Hopefully some of them found it in their heart to grab an extra coat to donate.

What do you think about last week’s Black Friday extravaganza? Have you seen your international sales grow on Black Friday in recent years? How have your online sales balanced out against your brick and mortar sales? What unique challenges have you seen? We’d love to hear what you think. Sound off on social media now and join the conversation.