Every year, as the leaves fall, we are pushed images from America – excited, irrational chaos as giddy locals seeking their treats clamber over each other in a mad rush. Not halloween – Black Friday.

But what happens when Black Friday goes online?

Instead of shaming images, displaying the naked power of consumerism, we are left with something most people find far less salacious: Data

That’s right ladies and gents, we’re going to get down with the digits and have a look at what this year’s rather unusual Black Friday meant for consumer behaviour and corporate outcomes. So strap in, or strap on – whichever one is being delivered by Prime.

“Buy Now, Pay Later” makes getting into debt frictionless!

Sezzle, Quadpay, Klarna and Amazon’s own offering came into their own this year as Black Friday bills were split into multiple monthly black Friday payments.

This raft of new fintech lenders are heavily advertising currently in an effort to make consumers more comfortable with the mysterious services that pop up at check out.

Explodingtopics.com had several of the providers in their top e-commerce trends this month:

Black Friday. Amazon pay later (keyword) Graph showing monthly payments option from e-commerce giant Amazon.
Black Friday. Sezzle & Quadpay but now pay later instalment service. Graphs show searches/mo vs growth.

Shopify merchants sold $2.4bn on this Black Friday, up 75% from 2019.

Shopify merchants sold $2.4bn on this Black Friday, up 75% from 2019, positioning themselves as the alternative to Amazon for selling online, they are much more open about the numbers behind the scenes, and their awesome global visualisation of global orders is about as close to the photos of yesteryear’s manic crowds as we’re going to get in 2020:

Black Friday orders per minute, sales per minute, carbon offset (tonnes).

It was an especially black (note the lowercase) Friday for one retailer in particular, as news broke over the weekend that Arcadia group, who own Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burtons were days away from collapse.

Arcadia have found themselves out gunned by digital first retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo over the past 10 years and it seems their position as the one time darling of the high street has come back to haunt them with the fixed costs that go along with physical operations.

Black Friday Topshop Arcadia Insights with Boohoo.com and ASOS.com. Graph shows interest over time.

I was hoping to end this dance through some data on a positive note, something along the lines of “Hey, we couldn’t kill or injure each other since we were all online”. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

Black Friday death toll: graph shows causes of Black Friday injuries/death.

Since 2006 there have been 11 deaths as a result of Black Friday and sadly 2020 was no different:

“a gunman shot and killed two teens at a Northern California mall in the midst of Black Friday, sending shoppers running for safety” – Seattle Times

It’ such a phenomenon there is a “Black Friday Death Count” website, dedicated to tracking them.

Black Friday: what happens when it goes online? Unpacking a very different Black Friday.
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