We just had a $7.4 billion Black Friday

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This just in from Associated Press

This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, as fewer people hit the stores and shoppers rang up $7.4 billion in transactions from their phones, computers and tablets. That’s just behind the $7.9 billion haul of last year’s Cyber Monday, which holds the one-day record for online sales, according to Adobe Analytics … Much of the shopping is happening on people’s phones, which accounted for 39% of all online sales Friday and 61% of online traffic. Shoppers have been looking for “Frozen 2” toys in particular. Other top purchases included sports video games and Apple laptops. 

Will Black Friday out-cyber Cyber Monday? 

I had set out to write about the origin of the term Cyber Monday—but the truth is there’s no outdoing how Matt Swider and Mark Knapp put it in techradar.com:

As a term, “Cyber Monday” was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman of the US National Retail Federation and Shop.org, in a deliberate move to promote online shopping back in 2005 when the Internet was made of wood and powered by steam. 

Cyber Monday is, of course, a play on Black Friday, which needs no introduction. The latter follows on the heels of Thanksgiving, which in the United States falls officially on the fourth Thursday of November

For brick-and-mortar retailers, Black Friday marks the biggest shopping day of the year. It is a day of self-punishment during which crowds descend upon stores and malls while complaining about crowds descending upon stores and malls.

I probably don’t need to tell you how Black Friday got its name. You probably know that, as the official start of the holiday shopping season for millions of Americans, it is responsible for nudging many a retailer “into the black.” 

As origin stories go, that one for Black Friday makes so much sense, it’s a shame it isn’t true. According to Business Insider, the first use of Black Friday referred to a severe stock market crash:

The term “Black Friday” was first used on Sept. 24, 1869, when two investors, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, drove up the price of gold and caused a crash that day. The stock market dropped 20% and foreign trade stopped. Farmers suffered a 50% dip in wheat and corn harvest value. In the 1950s, Philadelphia police used the “Black Friday” term to refer to the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game. Huge crowds of shoppers and tourists went to the city that Friday, and cops had to work long hours to cover the crowds and traffic.

For a while, retailers pushed to change “Black” to “Big.” It never took hold.

According to Adobe Analytics as reported by Wikipedia, in 2006, one year after Swider and Knapp coined the term Cyber Monday, gross sales on that day came to $610 million. Last year, Cyber Monday topped “a record $7.9 billion of online spending which is a 19.3% increase from a year ago.”

To me, the only wonder is that Cyber Monday isn’t even bigger. It is, after all, the ultimate crowd-avoidance opportunity. At the same time, think of the gasoline you won’t burn, traffic accidents you won’t risk, register lines you won’t endure, picked-clean retail shelves you won’t face, the ache that won’t be splitting your head, and sore feet you won’t have to soak when you finally return home, assuming you have time for foot-soaking when you return home.

But then, not every online holiday purchase must be made on precisely that day. The “rush” has already begun, for some as early as late August. And as CNET put it, “there are certainly a zillion Black Friday deals available right now.” 

And it’s not as if online shoppers will go into hibernation at sunset tonight. Digital Trends noted, “As with most buying holidays … many of the major sales are probably going to go live even earlier than that and bleed all the way through Cyber Week.” It continues:

You can be sure Cyber Monday will bring great deals on computers, TVs, smart home devices, games and gaming machines, and other tech products. For many, Black Friday is the time to shop for everything, but Cyber Monday is the day to focus on electronics … we expect to see loads of head-shaking deals on 4K HDR TVs, especially for 55-inch to 65-inch models, as well as 70-inch TVs. There will also be tempting deals on soundbars, Nintendo Switches, Amazon Echo, Google Nest, and other smart home devices. Laptops, tablets, and noise-canceling headphones will be highly sought-after and of course, smartwatches including Apple Watches and Samsung wearables. Apple deals for iPhones, iPads, AirPods, and other entertainment options are sure to be on everyone’s list. You can also bet there will be plenty of deals on Instant Pots, coffee makers, and robot vacuums.

To more fully appreciate the mammoth event that Cyber Monday has become, you need only google “Cyber Monday deals 2019.” In fact, permit me to spare you from having to key in all of that: just click here.

As payment options multiply, merge, and grow in capability, you can bet Cyber Monday will only continue to wax bigger and bigger. As one working behind the scenes in the digital payments industry, I hope shoppers will pause to thank us for making possible this respite from the stresses of in-store shopping. But the ironic reality is that the better we all do our jobs—that is, the more seamless and effortless we make digital payment processes—the less shoppers will even know we’re here.

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