Black Friday is nearly upon us, and interest in the annual shopping splurge appears to be taking hold in the UK… sort of.
In the US it makes sense as Black Friday always coincides with the day after Thanksgiving, but on these shores it all feels a bit forced.
Why should we care about a shopping event that coincides with a public holiday that means nothing in the UK?
But don’t let logic stand in the way of consumerism. Retailers are obviously happy to get behind any event that encourages people to spend more money in the run up to Christmas.
And it does appear that searches for ‘Black Friday’ are beginning to spike again as the day approaches, so we might have finally reached a tipping point.
If you look at the paid search results it seems that UK retailers are certainly gearing up for a big Black Friday.
The likes of Very.co.uk, Amazon and ASOS are bidding on the term ‘Black Friday’, while others have setup hub pages to host their special offers.
However it still feels a bit half-hearted compared to the all-guns-blazing approach we see from US retailers.
For example, Very.co.uk’s PPC landing page doesn’t even mention Black Friday, it just displays all sale items.
Even those retailers with Black Friday hub pages don’t appear to have any way of navigating to them other than via Google.
Here’s a look at some of the retailers that surfaced in a Google search for Black Friday in both organic and paid results.
Argos has this countdown clock to get people excited about the amazing bargains, but it’s basically impossible to find other than via organic and paid search.
It also fails to give any indication of what the deals might be, so shoppers just have to trust that it’ll be worth coming back on Friday to find out.
John Lewis boldly states: “IF OUR COMPETITORS HAVE A SALE WE HAVE A SALE.”
But again I couldn’t find any way of navigating to this page via the John Lewis site, I could only find it in Google organic search results.
It even takes the time to explain to its customers exactly what Black Friday is and why it’s relevant.
John Lewis will open its stores early and match the sale prices offered by its competitors. It’s a bold promise and one that might be put to the test should other retailers slash their prices too far.
On Black Friday last year traffic to John Lewis’ site peaked between 7am and 8am at levels 14 times higher than anything the retailer had seen before.
It also broke previous records for a single day’s online trade.
Amazon has Black Friday deals plastered all over its website, but then it is an American company so it has more experience of this seasonal shopping bonanza.
It has new deals every 10 minutes, with each accompanied by a countdown clock to drive a sense of urgency.
Shoppers can even browse upcoming deals so they can schedule in a 10-minute shopping frenzy. There will be 3,000 different offers this year, 10 times more than Amazon laid on in 2010.
Due to the sheer number of deals most of the products are what I’d describe as ‘useless crap’, but Amazon occasionally throws in a TV or some headphones as well.
ASOS’s paid search ads lead to this Black Friday/Cyber Monday landing page, but it’s essentially a data capture form for the retailer’s existing Outlet store.
As yet there don’t appear to be any deals that are specifically available for Black Friday, this page is just to take advantage of consumer interest in the annual shopping event.
Currys has a small Black Friday banner on its homepage, which leads to a tantalising countdown clock…
There’s also a form where shoppers can sign up to receive news of Currys’ Black Friday deals, however it requires your name, phone number and home address, before forcing you to complete a CAPTCHA field.
Interestingly, this page also explains what Black Friday is, which gives an indication of the level of interest among UK shoppers. It says:
Shops open early and there are big savings online and in-store in time-limited deals – it’s the perfect time to get your Christmas shopping started. It’s also followed by Cyber Monday, another day of big online discounts.
Clearly UK brands are hoping to artificially generate some excitement around Black Friday so they can enjoy the same level of shopping that occurs over in the US.
It’ll be interesting to see whether people in the UK take the bait.
Jones Bootmaker is running a PPC campaign for Black Friday, but its landing page is for a generic sale.
Instead it’s relying on shoppers to read the ad copy closely to find out that a new sale will begin at midday on Friday.
Asda didn’t show up in Google and its Black Friday deals are only available in-store, but its hub page is worth further investigation.
The retailer has a homepage ad for its Black Friday offers which leads to a responsive landing page with a store locator, preview of the offers and a social aggregator for all mentions of #asdablackfriday.
Clearly Black Friday is a big deal at Asda (which is owned by Walmart), but only if you’re willing to fight the crowds in-store.
UK retailers are obviously keen to make the most of any consumer interest in Black Friday, but other than Amazon none appear to have fully embraced the event.
It’s understandable that UK shoppers wouldn’t be particularly interested in a sales event that coincides with a public holiday we don’t even celebrate, but it’s also understandable that retailers would want to try and artificially create an annual event dedicated to shopping.
Though interest is picking up it’s quite telling that few sites have Black Friday banners on their homepages or within their nav menus.
Some of those that are spending on paid search haven’t really bothered to optimise their landing pages, while the likes of John Lewis and Currys have actually taken the time to explain exactly what Black Friday is and why people should care.
Therefore it seems that Black Friday is something of a slow burn for retailers and shoppers in the UK, but it may yet become an annual fixture.
Let’s just hope we don’t start to see that shameful display of people queuing in the street from midnight to secure the best deals.