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Populus research reveals critical attitudes toward Black Friday/ Cyber Monday

Black Friday is one of retail’s biggest dates in the calendar year. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, where it’s only really been of public interest since 2014 according to Google Trends.

Source: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=GB&q=black%20friday 23/11/18

New Populus research published today has revealed widespread critical attitudes among the UK public towards Black Friday/ Cyber Monday.

Almost two thirds (62%) of people believe they can get discounts that are just as big or bigger at other times of the year. Less half (48%) of people are likely to buy during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales.

A majority (71%) believe that Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales encourage people to spend more than they can afford. Fears of over-spending, online scams and stress put people off Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales.

The findings highlight consumer weariness around Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales. Half of consumers (51%) say that they check retailers’ websites in the period before the sales to decide whether they are worthwhile. A similar proportion struggle to find the best deals – 53% say that with all of the sales hype, it’s too difficult to work out the best deal, leaving them unlikely to make a purchase during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales.

Amazon dominates Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales

 When they do make a Black Friday/ Cyber Monday purchase, shoppers are overwhelmingly likely to consider buying from retail giant Amazon. Almost two thirds (65%) of those considering buying something during the sales, are considering buying from Amazon.

Amazon’s popularity among shoppers transcends almost all categories. According to the research, it tops the list in every category surveyed (clothing, homeware, toys, health and beauty, and jewellery).

Five ways that retailers can take on the tech giant

It’s not all doom and gloom for retailers however.

The research highlights a few ways that retailers can survive, and thrive, during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales:

  1. Be transparent. Over half (51%) of people are already checking retailers’ websites to decide whether the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday discounts are worthwhile. Retailers should be transparent about their discounts and their sales.
  2. Get online. During the sales, nearly twice as many people (76%) will consider buying online as in store (36%). Retailers should emphasise their online offerings, ensuring that websites are easy to navigate and able to handle spikes in usage.
  3. Size matters. A majority (62%) say you can get discounts that are just as big, or bigger, at other times of the year. So, the size of discount matters. Over half (55%) say that the size of the discount is the most important issue when deciding whether or not to purchase. That’s five times more important than the reputation of the retailer. Our research shows that moving the discount level from 40% to 50% drives the biggest step change in consumer behaviour.
  4. Get festive. Two thirds of consumers (64%) say that they are likely to buy a Christmas gift during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales and over a third (38%) say that they are a great way to get the Christmas season going. 24% say Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales make Christmas more affordable.
  5. Reassure shoppers. Around a third (30%) of people are concerned about becoming a victim of scams or online hacking during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales. So, it is especially important for retailers to demonstrate that their websites are secure during the sales.


David Racadio, Head of Syndicated Stakeholder Research at Populus, comments on the findings:

“The research uncovers widespread cynical attitudes toward buying during the sales. Shoppers are weary of deals that seem too good to be true, and are wising up to the reality of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales, believing they can make great savings at other times of the year too.

 Retailers that adapt to changing consumer attitudes will be more likely to achieve success at this time of the year. The research shows that being transparent, targeting online shoppers, setting discounts at the 50% mark, and highlighting the opportunities for preparing for Christmas, are ways in which retailers can survive, and even thrive, during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales.”


Populus surveyed 2,086 GB adults aged 18+ between 28-30 September 2018.

Populus is a full service research and strategy consultancy. Set up in 2003, their goal has been to equip companies and individuals with a sophisticated understanding of their markets, audiences and brands.

Populus is a trusted adviser to some of the UK’s biggest retail companies and brands and use polling, research, evidence and expertise to provide clients with the critical knowledge they need to succeed.

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