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Data> Big Data Updated: 03 Jan 2019

E-shopping Christmas is celebrated in November

If December is the month with the highest sales for traditional shopping, for the last two years November has become the star of Internet shopping. The recent phenomenon of Black Friday brings forward by one month the arrival of Christmas to online shopping, according to a study by BBVA Data & Analytics and BBVA Research.


BBVA has analysed a sample of 30,000 merchants using BBVA POSs and, in parallel, the transactions of 3.5 million customer cards on an anonymous basis to assess the impact of the Black Friday phenomenon in Spain. The study shows a very stable changing pattern with a constant growth of purchases associated with this week of offers in the last four years.

However, the effect of Black Friday is more noticeable in online purchases than in face-to-face ones. Thus, according to the sample analysed, since 2016 the volume of Internet purchases in November exceeds the volume of those made in the last month of the year. However, Spaniards continue to spend 21% more on Christmas gifts in physical stores in the month of December than in November.

The famous discount campaign drives online purchases, which have doubled in the last three years and already represent 19% of the total of what is purchased in November by both channels, physical and online shopping, according to the study. This month records the highest online sales of the year (and all the historical series analysed) followed by December and July, the traditional months of higher consumption, associated with the collection of extra payments.

Black Friday is also a national phenomenon. If the total expenditure in shops is analysed, both online and face-to-face, during this week there is no doubt: in 2018, all Spaniards spent more between 19 and 26 November than between 5 and 12 of the same month, regardless of the province of origin. And once again, this increase in demand is especially noticeable when we buy online.

The increase in expenditure is unquestionable, but in some autonomous communities it grows more than in others. Thus, for example, in Castilla-La Mancha spending on online purchases doubles during the week of Black Friday, compared to an increase of less than 20% of face-to-face purchases. Also, increases close to 100% of online expenditure in that period were recorded in the Community of Madrid, Andalusia and Extremadura.

The only exception is the Canary Islands, which increase more spending in physical stores in the period of Black Friday, about 30%, while Internet purchases only increase around 15%.

Traditional shopping, more reluctant to jump on Black Friday

Virtual stores are the ones that have adopted Black Friday the most, according to the data analysed. For the analysis it has been considered that an increase of more than 15% of turnover on this date means the adoption of offers associated with Black Friday. Thus, although the total volume of sales is still much higher in stores at street level, there are more shops that make offers online in this period of November.

In general, the number of physical establishments that have adopted Black Friday has not changed excessively since 2014, with a share that stands around 43%.

In the online channel, the percentage of businesses that have adopted these discounts has been higher, with 56% in 2014 and an increase in adoption that has remained stable at 59% from 2016 to 2018.

But size also matters. Small businesses –that is, those with a lower turnover– adopt this type of discount to a lesser extent than large stores, those with a higher turnover. Thus, according to the BBVA study, if we group the companies depending on the volume of turnover, the largest tend to adopt Black Friday more (57% of them) compared to an adoption slightly higher than 40% in the group of smaller companies of the set analysed.

Who spends, how much and where

The BBVA study shows that 31.6% of card users in the sample used take advantage of Black Friday offers and on average spend 123.2 Euros. Men spend the most, with an average of 137 Euros compared to 109 Euros for women. Age is another determining factor. Young people are those who make more transactions but their purchases are of lesser value. With age, fewer purchases are made, but that is because they involve a greater outlay on each of them.

By regions, those who are most encouraged are the people of Barcelona, where 36.8% of card users included in the study made purchases in that week, followed by 36.1% of the inhabitants of Melilla. In contrast, in the Basque Country, only 27.5% of Álava card users joined Black Friday, 27.7% in Guipúzcoa, and 29.5% in Vizcaya.

The highest average expenditure is almost 147 Euros in Melilla, 144 Euros in Las Palmas and 140 Euros in Palencia. On the other side of the scale is the Valencian Community, with an average expenditure of just over 91 Euros in Valencia, almost 110 Euros in Castellón and 115 Euros in Alicante.

Black Friday also reflects an advance of Christmas shopping if the best-selling products this week are analysed, where technology sales are booming, especially, but also fashion and toys sales, with some differences depending on whether purchases are made through online channels or in a physical store.

In Internet sales, the product categories that increase their turnover more than the previous week are technology in large areas and fashion in large firms (with a 563% and 264% increase, respectively). Online sales of shoes on those days were 269% higher than the previous week, while sales of sports goods and toys, typical at Christmas, grew by 65%. At the opposite end of the spectrum, sales of telephony services fell by 42% and gambling by almost 30%.

On the other hand, the products that most increase their sales through face-to-face channels are, in the same way, those related to technology in large stores (with 350% more) and toys (128% more), in a clear example of the advance of Christmas shopping. In this case too, sales in betting shops are reduced, but less than on the Internet, with 9.5% less.

The data shows that Black Friday is no longer an American phenomenon and is now part of the Spanish pre-Christmas campaign. This study is part of BBVA’s effort to share with society the knowledge and value of financial data.

*This study has been carried out by BBVA Data & Analytics y BBVA Research.

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