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Black Friday – What happened in 2021?

  • Retailers’ sales campaigns moved to earlier in the month of November
  • Revenue dropped by ~14% compared to Black Friday 2020
  • Website traffic dropped in 2021, meaning there was increased competition for customers to even browse retailers’ websites

A dip in traffic

Whilst we know revenue growth was down in November 2021, what was the exact reasoning for this? 

There was a significant drop in website traffic between the Monday of Black Friday week, to Cyber Monday, dropping to its lowest at -15.8% on the day itself 

This is largely because there were fewer people actually online, as high street stores were open in 2021, unlike 2020, there weren’t as many eyes on the websites to begin with

Will sales get earlier?

In 2020, Black Friday sale campaigns were live for a significantly longer period of time than the year before 

In 2019, the trend was for retailers to go a little ahead of Black Friday, but it mainly picked up in Week 4 of the month—the week of Black Friday itself

 In 2020 the trend of moving earlier was hugely accelerated by the pandemic. On the 5th of November in 2020, the UK went into lockdown again and the high street closed. This meant people were back to shopping online.

However, this trend of making Black Friday more of a month of sales than a day has been creeping in slowly for years as retailers follow suit with one another 

Black Friday sales were originally for 24 hours – on the day of Black Friday. Over the last few years, the sales have started earlier each year as shown on the graph below

Graph showing how sales and discounting are happening earlier and earlier on Black Friday

Changes in discounting

An analysis was conducted of the types of sales happening on the day of Black Friday to see if the discounts changed year on year and it worked out that almost exactly 40% of retailers increased their sales, 40% decreased them, and only 20% stayed the same.

Interestingly, from Nosto’s study of Black Friday, 38% of shoppers won’t choose a retailer that doesn’t offer free shipping BUT they don’t see it as a perk …

… So, it might be worth eCommerce retailers offering free shipping during this period, but only on orders over a specific monetary value – this has the dual benefit of maximising profits and ensuring customers aren’t lost to competitors offering free shipping.

So, what do we expect from 2022?

When looking at a comparison between sales performance between 2020 and 2021 as a whole, it’s no surprise that Black Friday was down YoY during 2021.

In 2022 so far, growth has been negative, in part this was due to comparison against the tail end of the lockdowns when revenue was high 

Since April, when we can compare 2022 growth against non-pandemic affected data, we expected growth to sit around 0%, but it remained further in the negative than this, suggesting a tough time ahead.

If the market, in general, is anything to go by, retailers have a tough time ahead to sustain neutral growth around Black Friday.

Black Friday Sales Trends

In 2022, we might expect to see a similar trend to that of 2021, not accelerated because of the likes of lockdowns, however still showing some movement earlier into November 

Therefore, the implication is that it’s most likely in 2022 that retailers will change their discounting strategy in some form again, whether it’s up or down—as there’s an equal split between increases and decreases.

However, we expect there will be significantly fewer people online … Why? The World Cup. 

England are playing 2 games during the Black Friday week, and with the Monday of Black Friday week being historically the most popular day (other than Black Friday itself).

On Monday 21st in 2022, England is playing Iran at 1 pm which is one of the times during the day when online shopping peaks due to this being the lunchtime hour. 

On Black Friday itself, England is playing the USA at 6 pm which happens to be another peak shopping time as the likelihood is, consumers will have just arrived home from work and are relaxing for the evening.

It’s incredibly hard to predict how Black Friday 2022 will go: a harsh economic outlook, reduced consumer spending, interruptions in normal traffic levels …

But, as ever, it IS predictable that sales will increase during this period, and the key to a successful Black Friday (even if the overall event is deemed less successful for all retailers) is savvy marketing, savvy offers, and excellent customer experience!

Black Friday is always a chance to boost sales and get ahead of the competition.

Want to know more, or need some help with your Black Friday campaigns? Get In Touch.

*data taken from IMRG website and Nosto’s ‘Black Friday Cyber Monday’ report.



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