Editor’s Blog: Is this the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

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It’s time to look back on such contrived online sales promotions as Black Friday and Cyber Monday as relics of their time…. In the same way that we view a man with a red flag running in front of a car to warn of its impending arrival. It serves its purposed, it has done its time, we can all laugh at how quaint it feels compared to our current existence.

Black Friday, lest we forget, is the Friday between Thanksgiving and the weekend. That’s great if you live in the USA. You have a national holiday, there’s people looking for something to do, get them online buying stuff. It’s the American way. Similar to Cyber Monday, a super-successful marketing slogan that deep discounts on the Monday after the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend in order to drive sales at Christmas.

These US-inspired marketing slogans have spread like an uncontrolled virus across national economies throughout the world, so much so that the Wikipedia entry for Cyber Monday has a list of countries that ‘observe’ Cyber Monday like a religious holiday. After all, why waste a good opportunity to drive volumes through your e-commerce platforms? And leave the logistics functions to plan accordingly for the spike in sales.

But those days are gone.

Total online retail sales in August were 46.8% higher than in pre-pandemic February – and pre-pandemic February had (slightly) higher online sales than November and December in 2019, according to the ONS.

Simply, we don’t need this level of contrived marketing to push e-commerce. We don’t need special ‘days’, we don’t need the deep discounts to move volumes. Events have conspired against the retail industry and has shifted the omnichannel mix. There is no going back.

Logistics operations will have to adjust. Yes, there will be a Christmas peak. People will buy presents and gifts for loved ones; they may even concentrate that activity around the last week in November and the first week of December (which is usually when people get paid). Without the promotion of Black Friday and Cyber Monday e-commerce volumes will see new heights this year.

As we explore in the October issue of Logistics Manager, it is home delivery that will bear the brunt. Hermes, for example, has spent £100 million this year to handle the demand as it anticipates record volumes. DHL tells this publication that it is already seeing increased demand for home deliveries with volumes already surpassing what we would normally see during the Black Friday peak.

So, as we wait for ministerial announcements, local lockdowns and work from home missives logistics operations need to remain agile. They do not need a contrived peak driven by a ‘day’ when there is every chance of a peak driven by real-world events and their impact on the economy. This is effective risk management in 2020.

Christopher Walton

Editor, Logistics Manager

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