Brands must think globally as shoppers turn to the UK for Black Friday bargains

  • Rakuten Marketing data reveals 14% year-on-year increase in sales globally for Black Friday
  • As many as 24% of sales driven by UK publishers will be driven by shoppers overseas
  • Singles’ Day becoming an early indicator for Cyber Week sales performance

LONDON, UK, 1 November 2017: Black Friday 2017 will be bigger than ever according to research by leading integrated marketing solutions company, Rakuten Marketing, with growth figures from 2016 indicating a 14% year-on-year increase in sales globally compared to 2015.

As sterling struggles to reclaim its pre-Brexit value, the findings show huge interest in consumers abroad buying from UK retailers during the global sales event. As many as 24% of sales through UK publishers on Black Friday are now driven by international shoppers. This rises to 28% by Cyber Monday, with the United States, Hong Kong and China making up 9% of this demand.

Closer to home in Europe, there is a greater tendency to buy locally, with France (90%) and Spain (50%) keeping most sales domestic. Interestingly, the Irish market appears to be showing a greater interest in converting in the UK as Brexit approaches. Last year, 58% of Black Friday voucher and discount site sales were driven by the UK, 15% more than in 2015.

Mark Haviland, EVP Global Development and MD of Rakuten Marketing Europe, comments, “Marketers looking to make the most of this year’s sales peaks will see the biggest returns by marketing internationally. We’ve already seen this year how brands including Burberry, known to be quintessentially British, have taken advantage of the weakness of the pound since the vote to leave the EU as tourists have flocked to buy products more cheaply in the UK.”

Mondays are the new Friday

Black Friday is more than a single day. Rakuten Marketing figures suggest that ‘Cyber Week’ in fact starts on the Monday preceding Black Friday, with the global number of orders placed just 9% short of those placed on the Friday. This may well be attributed to many offers now being run from the start of the week, as opposed to purely on the day itself.

Reaffirming that Mondays are emerging as the new Friday for marketers, the US saw 46% more sales on ‘Cyber Monday’ in 2016 – the Monday immediately following Black Friday – than Black Friday itself. For apparel and accessories, purchases take place 13% quicker than ordinary retail days, equivalent to shaving 19 hours off the customer journey.

Meanwhile in the UK, Black Friday still delivers the greatest sales boost, a colossal 307% increase compared to the average retail day in the first week of the month. Interestingly however, Cyber Monday purchases take 17 hours less than Black Friday as consumers rush to make the most of deals before they expire.

Haviland comments, “UK brands looking to have a global presence should focus on Cyber Monday. With so many US shoppers hurrying to take advantage of favourable exchange rates, on top of sales discounts, there’s an enormous opportunity to engage beyond the domestic market.”

Singles’ Day opportunities

Another hugely important day in November is Singles’ Day. While this is harder for western marketers to tap into, there is an increasing appetite among UK and US shoppers for Singles’ Day purchases, with 31% more US transactions taking place on the 11th than average, and 39% more in the UK.

This is supported by data showing the average time to purchase among Singles’ Day fashion shoppers. Consumers buying apparel and accessories in the US have browsed for an average of 8 days before they buy, 22% longer than other days in the month. This indicates the growing role this international sales peak plays in driving more cautious shoppers over the line during key winter sales periods.

Haviland concludes, “While conversions during winter sales peaks can seem almost immediate, it’s important to remember that the modern consumer journey is complex and there are many different kinds of shoppers your marketing efforts must cater for. The stores that win the retail battle are the ones that challenge assumptions of fast-paced domestic demand and take the steps to look across borders to understand their different audiences and markets.”


Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in integrated marketing solutions, spanning affiliate, display and search. Rakuten Marketing empowers marketers to achieve the full potential of digital marketing by delivering data-driven personalised ad experiences that engage consumers – across screens, platforms and traditional publishers – and influence them to purchase. Rakuten Marketing is committed to transparency, providing consumer journey insights that are used to continually optimise for performance.

Rakuten Marketing is a division of Rakuten Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies. With UK offices in London and Brighton, the company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with additional offices in France, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter or learn more at

Media contacts
Cal Young for Hotwire
020 7608 4629