Black Friday is a mainstay of the retail calendar – usually the biggest shopping day of the year. Originally the preserve of the US, with a belly full of Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie, shoppers would head to stores to grab products at extreme discounts.
In recent years, Black Friday has outgrown the single day to become an entire week or sometimes month of marketing and sales activity, and ecommerce has overtaken in-store sales to become the main purchase channel.
So, what did Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend deliver in 2023?
As always, the answer is in the data and the Black Friday statistics are in.
Was Black Friday 2023 a winner for Shopify stores?
On the back of record-breaking BFCM weekend sales in 2022 (around $7.5billion and +19% on 2021), Shopify reported that sales grew a whopping 24% again in 2023 to an astonishing $9.3billion in sales over the weekend.
So it would seem that Black Friday retains its reputation as a huge day for ecommerce stores. But as eye-catching as the big revenue numbers are, we are delving further into the data to ask some more in-depth questions – especially around customer basket value and the impact of new vs repeat customers.
We created a sample of just over 40,000 orders made through Shopify stores connected to the Distil AI: Business Analytics App to look deeper into the who, what and when to try and answer that all-important question – why?
What’s the revenue impact of Black Friday in the UK vs USA?
When the headline revenue figures are as strong as they are, there’s no denying Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend is a significant event. But we wanted to see the difference between the two regions so we split the revenue in our sample data set by USD vs GBP. Shoppers in the UK seem to be much more invested in BFCM weekend than those in the US this year – a trend that continues from 2022.
UK stores took on average 3 times more revenue than their usual rolling weekly average, but the increase in the US was far less significant – and reduced compared with 2022. The uplift in sales was 200% in the UK compared with 42% in the USA.
Did Shopify stores see more new customers than repeat ones?
The breakdown between new and repeat customers buying over BFCM weekend was nearly an even split between the two, proving that Black Friday is not just about catching new shoppers, it’s as much about marketing to your existing customer base.
We split the data down into the two largest segments in our sample (US and UK customers) and found new customers contributed slightly more to the revenue of UK stores, whereas the exact opposite is true for stores in the USA.
Did repeat customers shop more than once over BFCM weekend?
Surprisingly, not really. It seems stores have one shot, regardless of whether they’re marketing to new or repeat customers to capture that purchase. This has huge potential implications for marketers who may want to optimise their marketing over BFCM weekend and reduce the volume of communications to customers once they have purchased. By taking this approach, marketers could not only improve the efficiency of their channels, they could distribute the budget where it’s needed to generate the greatest possible volume of sales.
Did customers’ average spend change year-on year?
Yes, absolutely – the US audience spent an average of 26% more, whereas the average basket size in the UK didn’t grow by as much. But seeing an increase in both regions means that shoppers purchased bigger, higher value baskets on average than they did in 2022. So those stores that did see an uplift from BFCM weekend shoppers benefitted more than they did last year.
Was there any difference in buying habits over the course of the weekend?
Well, yes. In fact, the audience buying in USD spent more on average in their baskets on Sunday and Cyber Monday – which is in contrast to those buying in GBP, who checked out the highest value baskets on Black Friday. Marketers and Ecommerce Managers can use this insight to weight paid media and email channels differently depending on the day over BFCM weekend – again, maximising return on investment for the budget.
Has the impact of Black Friday diminished at all?
The answer if you look at the data set as a whole, is no. Black Friday is alive and well, and still one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
But regionally, it’s possible that opinions towards Black Friday are changing. There certainly seems to be a shift between the USA and the UK audience and their participation in BFCM weekend shopping.
There’s still a significant difference in average weekly revenue when you look at the uplift compared to the rolling average. But when you break the data down by currency – Black Friday week wasn’t as big in the US as it was in the UK this year.
So, what next?
As always, the data tells many stories, but context is crucial. So here are our top 3 takeaways:
- Repeat customers matter, wherever your store is in the world. So treat them and prioritise them in BFCM promotional activity.
- You’ve got 1 shot to get a purchase from any customer, new or repeat, over BFCM weekend, so strategise how you adjust your marketing and communications after that and maybe use your budget elsewhere to maximise sales.
- Upweight your budget on paid media channels for the top shopping days in your region – Black Friday & Saturday for the UK, Sunday and Cyber Monday for the US.
If you want to uncover whether Black Friday really works for your brand, we can help. Just one of those ways is via something we call a Customer Trait built into Distil. It’s a way of classifying customers so you can see how the Black Friday cohort performed for your store. You can look at sales and revenue, product preferences, which marketing channels worked best and which you could skip for next year. Just a few of the angles you could investigate to see if Black Friday is really worth it for your brand.
If you want to talk to us about it, book in here.
Data methodology statement
This data was drawn on Tuesday 28th November 2023 from a sample of 126 Shopify stores worldwide and connected to the Distil AI Business Analytics App to produce a data set of 40,000+ orders. The analysis methodology of the average order value was to take an average of the metric for the individual store and then average across all stores in the sample. For the purposes of this commentary, we have assumed that stores trading in GBP are based in the UK and for USD they are based in the USA.