by Dan Conboy

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the key retailing dates of the year, often characterised by long queues and scuffles over large electrical goods. We discuss the trends and outcomes of this year's 'Cyber Weekend'.

A record breaking year. According to IMRG and Experian, this year's 'Cyber Weekend' has brought in an estimated £3.3bn in revenue, with £1.1bn on Black Friday alone. Imported from our friends over the pond, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now become a firm part of the calendar for Britain's retailers.

In recent years we've seen an emotive reaction from the great British public to the arrival of these shopping events. Who can forget these famous scenes?

As a result, all eyes are on the nation's retailers over these pivotal four days. We've been monitoring the big brands to see how Black Friday and Cyber Monday panned out in 2015. Here's what we found.

1. Less queuing

In previous years we have seen people camped out overnight waiting to grab the first bargains in their favourite store. This has led to problems with shoppers desperately fighting over the last 42" flat screen telly. As a result, stores bumped up the security this year and ASDA chose to abandon Black Friday events all together. It turned out that this extra security was often unnecessary as pre-opening queues were quite small. Many customers decided to use services such as 'Click & Collect' to reserve their bargain and pick up the items of their choice at a time to suit them, or opt for delivery. As a result, overall store footfall was down 4.4% compared to last year.

2. Online sales grew again

WorldPay were processing 320 transactions per second at the peak of Black Friday online trading - this demand has made Black Friday 2015 a record-breaking day for UK online sales. 7.4m items were ordered on Amazon - that's 86 items per second. Overall, online sales were up 36% compared to last year. Mobile and tablet devices have continued to contribute towards this trend as customers opt for convenience over queues.

3. Online retailers suffered downtime, but 50% less than last year

Previous years have seen significant issues for online retailers and website availability. Some retailers, like Argos, tried to mitigate demand by using queuing systems to spread website load and demand. Others did suffer some speed and availability issues in the morning of Black Friday, including John Lewis, Argos, Boots, Tesco and Game. However, more generally, website availability has been strong considering the increased demand. It's estimated that 25% of retailers suffered some issues, compared to 50% last year.

In summary

There's still a strong appetite for deals around Cyber Weekend, but things have changed this year. Customer behaviour has shifted even further online and this has reduced in-store queues (and fights!) but placed additional pressure on web services teams, hosting providers and ISPs to maintain availability. Equally, retailers have also changed their promotional activity, moving to longer term offers and discounts rather than single day offers. This has changed the landscape from one or two days of offers, to a longer term season of promotions.

And if you're not completely exhausted with promotions and deals, they're set to continue as we look towards the last few weeks of pre-Christmas trading.

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