FIRST THERE was Black Friday. Now get ready for Cyber Monday.
The shopping frenzy that began last week looks set to continue into today as retailers prepare for another day of discount-driven sales.
While Friday saw scenes of mayhem at high street stores as consumers quite literally battled for the best bargains, tomorrow’s activity will be largely focused online.
British shoppers seem to have wholeheartedly embraced the American “traditions”, even as spiritual leaders have bemoaned their apparent pointlessness.
Retail experts too have warned that the heavy reductions will decimate profit margins at companies already struggling in a tough trading environment.
Amazon, the US online shopping giant, trumpeted the busiest-ever day at its UK business on Friday, smashing last year’s record of 4m items to sell more than 5.5m items. This equates to a mind-boggling rate of 64 items a second.
A spokeswoman for Amazon UK told The Yorkshire Post: “Cyber Monday has been the biggest day of the year for internet retailers but the incredible success of Black Friday means that it will have to be a huge day for that to be the case this year.
“We are ready for whatever the day brings with thousands of members of the Amazon team across the UK prepped and ready to pick, pack and deliver the millions of items that will be ordered.”
Amazon UK operates a 450,000 sq ft distribution warehouse in Doncaster, which plays a key role in the group’s fast-growing retail business.
The Yorkshire Post visited the bustling facility on Black Friday and witnessed the logistical processes that allow Amazon to meet customer demand for virtually every type of consumer product.
“It has such a significant contribution,” said Ben Howes, PR director at Amazon UK.
“Items from here will be delivered to people all over the UK.
“It is an integral part of what Amazon in Europe and globally does.”
Bestselling items in the UK include the Kindle Fire, the Dolce Gusto Mini Me Coffee Capsule Machine, the Toy Story Ultimate Action Buzz Lightyear figurine, diamond jewellery and men’s watches.
Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU Retail at Amazon, said: “Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year on year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations.
“The public’s appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar.”
Others were less impressed with the growth of the shopping phenomenon.
George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said it was almost unbelievable that police had to deal with unruly shoppers.
Trouble erupted at several Tesco and Asda stores as customers fought for cheap household goods such as TVs.
“Disturbing as such images might be, perhaps the real point to make about Black Friday is its sheer lack of point,” said Dr Carey in an article for The Mail on Sunday.
“Buying gifts for friends and loved ones, the sense of preparation and imminent celebration - these are important.
“But there is absence of context, a mindlessness even, to what we are now seeing that makes me concerned.
“I have even asked myself the question: is this the Black Day that killed Christmas?”
Dr Carey accused large retailers of behaving irresponsibly by seducing hard-up people with offers of huge price reductions for one day only.
Retail experts pointed out that shoppers might be better off waiting for the January sales.