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Karen Li

Karen Li

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Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: Your Guide to the Ultimate Shopping Day Showdown

Black Friday is traditionally known as the day when American shoppers can get a little crazy in search of a great deal. Sometimes several days in advance. Like when they begin camping out in a Walmart parking lot to get their place in line for doorbuster deals. But these days Black Friday is evolving, maybe even morphing into Cyber Monday.

Are America’s days of pitching tents in Walmart parking lots behind us? Or has the shopping insanity just moved online? To find out, we delved into some of the most frequently asked questions and biggest trends surrounding the Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday phenomena.

What’s Black Friday?… and why’s it black? 

A lot of people think Black Friday is “black” because of the mayhem shoppers cause in their frenzy to get a discount. That feels right, but there’s two lines of thought on where the name came from. The first is that shoppers went so nuts that people in Philadelphia began to refer to it as “Black Friday” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

The second and slightly less satisfying, but equally plausible, version is that retailers named it. They started calling it “Black Friday” because it was the day of the year they went into the black and out of the red, to put it into accounting slang.

No matter which version of the story you believe in, the holiday dates to back to 1869, shortly after President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official holiday in the United States in 1863.

When is Black Friday / Cyber Monday?

For Americans, the story starts with our Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas that takes place on a date, Thanksgiving always falls on the same day of the week. Thanksgiving takes place the last Thursday in November. The following day, Friday, is always a vacation day for Americans.

And what do Americans love to do in their free time… go shopping!

Are Black Friday / Cyber Monday the same thing?

Yes, and no. Traditionally, they were different. But you have to go back to the days before the internet.

Today, a lot of people shop online for Black Friday, as well as in store. The lines are beginning to blur, but “Cyber Monday” dates back to 2005, when we still referred to the online world as “cyberspace.” Our days of calling it cyberspace may have passed, but the Cyber Monday moniker has stuck.

What’s bigger, is it Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Black Friday has traditionally been the single biggest shopping day of the year in the US. But that’s changing. Cyber Monday has been the biggest online shopping day in the US since 2014.

Cyber Monday is expected to be bigger than Black Friday again this year. According to retail analysts, 122 million Americans will be shopping on Cyber Monday in 2018.

How did Cyber Monday become a thing? 

The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by a retail trade group, the National Retail Federation. The group first used the term in a press release after noticing a jump in online sales after the traditional Black Friday shopping event. The catchy shopping day quickly caught fire, and a new American shopping tradition was born.

Is Cyber Monday the biggest shopping day in the world? 

Nope. Not even close. China’s Single’s Day is still the shopping day most likely to break the internet. In 2018, sales for Single’s Day topped $31 billion — in less than 16 hours.

What are some Black Friday vs Cyber Monday trends to look for in 2018? 

While the amounts being spent on the combined days continues to grow; the way people spend continues to change. It’s not all electronics and clothes. A few major trends to look out for this holiday shopping season:

More experiences, less stuff

In 2018, US consumers are expect to spend more on experiences than stuff. According to a Deloitte study, respondents planned to spend 40% of their holiday budget on experiences and socializing.

More conscious spending by Millennials

Millennials will tend to choose retailers that align with their social and political views, including ethnic and disability inclusion.

More people planning to shop online

According to Deloitte research, 70% of consumers are looking for free shipping with their online purchases, and more than two-thirds or those surveyed said they shop online because of time savings and home delivery.

Psst… There’s more savvy know-how to grow your Amazon business where that came from.

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Karen Li

Karen Li

Karen is a veteran of fintech who leads PingPong's U.S. operations. When Karen's not working at PingPong, she's been known to play some serious ping pong. As of our last ping pong tournament, she's the reigning office champ!

Karen writes about cross-border payments, global e-commerce and finance. Email Karen!

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