Black and Blue

Some further thoughts on Black Friday, as it has become a disruptive event:

  1. The spike in sales was unprecedented, as shown by John Lewis and the figure below (courtesy of @neilretail). This cascaded into problems with store service and then other problems for retailers in coping with and meeting the demand, at the time and beyond.
  2. So many products were bought on Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday, that the surge in internet sales has caused delivery companies to crumble under the pressure – Yodel, M&S and others have warned of long delays in delivering orders. So much for learning from the past and preparing for the worst/best.
  3. And what did all this do for retailer business? With so much sold, and probably at a lower than desired margin, profitability will have taken a hit. Worse, consumers are now factoring in their ability to extract discounts before, during and after the key Festive season. There could be casualties.
  4. Finally, there’s the returns. With sales so high, so too it seems that returns are at a record high. People returned Black Friday and Cyber Monday goods, and of course the internet encourages this practice. So we went from Black Friday to Blue Wednesday (colour scheme courtesy of @oxondon), the day retailers received the most returns and fully realised the monster they had unleashed.



About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in Black Friday, Christmas, Cyber Monday, Internet shopping, John Lewis Partnership, Logistics, Online Retailing, Returns, Sales, Supply Chains and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Black and Blue

  1. Bill Bishop says:


    It’s very helpful to see your analysis of the black Friday sales spike and its ultimate impact on retailer profits. This year black Friday was a lower impact event in the US than in past years because many retailers started to promote earlier.

    That said, think we still have similar issues with promotions disrupting the supply chain and customer service. Even with access to all the big data, it doesn’t look like retailers have yet found a way to drive promotional sales without disrupting the system. Wonder when we’ll get this one figured out.

    • Leigh Sparks says:


      Thanks for comment. I find the JLP graph remarkable for the Black Friday peak being more than Christmas may be. A retailer created disruptive event, and one that few can see the outcomes of. It really took off in various crazy forms. Longest one i saw was fir a Black Friday week long event.

      I did note the press coverage of BF in the USA and do wonder about the shifting patterns and timings.


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