Remember when we all counted down the shopping days until Christmas, getting into more of a panic as the big day got closer? In the days before the Internet our only option was to head to the bright lights and prepare for fights over the bargains with our fellow shoppers. The Internet has changed our shopping experience forever. Now, one of the only reasons we head to shops is to practice 'Showrooming', the practice of browsing offline then buying online. Smartphones crammed full of apps have allowed us to make our purchases in the most unusual situations 24/7.
Traditionally the biggest shopping extravaganza in the UK was the Boxing Day sales where retailers would slash the price of Christmas goods and eager shoppers would queue overnight to be at the front of the rugby scrum to nab the bargains. Today more is spent online in a matter of hours than these retailers could take in a day, at the fraction of the operating costs. Every brand now has eCommerce capabilities.
Over the past few years we've seen a growing trend of names to define our shopping days in the run up to Christmas, as if we needed an excuse to spend. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is now a staple of the UK shopping lexicon even though it has no cultural reference point over her. The day's name originated in Philadelphia in the sixties where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving, although some will also use it as the starting point for the small window where retailers would start to make a profit for the year and thus be 'in the black'.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, was devised in 2005 by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online with those retailers who couldn't compete with the discounts that the bigger retailers could offer on Black Friday. America's shoppers spend on these days (plus the Saturday and Sunday in-between) in 2014 topped $50 billion while Experian predict that UK shoppers will spend close to £2 billion on those days.
However, there is a rival from the east for consumer spending superiority. Guanggen Jie, or Chinese Singles Day on the 11th November, last year was worth over $9 billion and experts forecast that unattached Chinese adults around the world will spend over $10 billion, the vast majority of it online.
But wait. We now have a new day, created by the brand marketers to grab our attentions and wallets. Green Monday will celebrate its sixth birthday this year after being "coined" by eBay back in 2009 as the day where they experience the highest level of sales, will be on the 14th December this year. Last year shoppers spent $1.6 billion, making it the third biggest shopping day in the US. Expect online market places to go into advertising overdrive in the run up to the 14th, although it may not have the same impact here in the UK. Instead we have Manic Monday (7th December this year) where shoppers spend their pay checks to the tune of an estimated £740 million this year.
We could go on. The quiet peacefulness of Christmas Day with the highlight traditionally being The Queen’s Speech and a post Turkey lunch snooze have now been replaced by the "exclusive online preview sales" which are estimated by Experian to hit over £725 million this year.
Obviously the same online shopping health warnings apply. Whilst many brands will heavily discount products and services for online shoppers, so too will the cyber criminals, creating offers that will be too good to be true. Unfortunately as much as 10% of the UK's £4.8 billion that is estimated to be spent this Christmas will be on counterfeit or non-existent goods. Consumers need to be wary of offers that are simply too good to be true and check that the website is the real deal before parting with their hard-earned cash, especially for those products that are out of stock everywhere else.
Now, let me tell you about the next big thing… Silver Sunday. Or shall I save that for next year?