BLACK Friday will see Brits spending £2million-a-minute online – but store websites’ worst-ever crashes are predicted amid unprecedented cyber traffic.
Experts blame shops’ lockdown causing a huge spike in web demand – 70 per cent bigger than last year’s Black Friday.
Electronics and fashion websites are set to be worst hit by web meltdowns.
Even the launch of PlayStation5 – just one product – last week saw Currys forced to implement a queue to access its website, and John Lewis, Tesco and Game’s websites would not load.
The spending surge will dwarf last year’s Black Friday, when Currys PC World’s website went offline and NatWest’s banking website and app crashed.
Debenhams, Next, John Lewis, Boots, Ted Baker and Game have all crashed on previous Black Fridays.
Today’s £1.93billion web blowout works out at £2.01m-a-min over the 16 hours most people are awake, beating the previous record £1.56m-a-min, set on last year’s Cyber Monday, a VoucherCodes.co.uk study with the Centre for Retail Research showed.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “There’s no way websites will be able to cope, with spending this Black Friday up so much on previous big online days.
“There are bound to be websites crashing. Retailers have spent millions improving website operations and technology, but the surge in demand will be so big and higher than any other day. There will be problems.”
Ross Davies, director of e-commerce consultants Strafe Creative, said: “Many companies do not have website capacities to meet demand. Websites react to large spikes in traffic and can crash.
“Crashed websites on a day when retailers hoped to make large sales damage sales and the companies’ reputations.”
Research by e-commerce platform EKM has projected that online Black Friday sales will be 53% higher this year.
Online marketplace eBay has said it expects a surge of sales as people continue to complete their Christmas shopping early.
Murray Lambell, general manager of eBay UK, said: “This year, the country will experience its biggest Black Friday yet with people across the UK gearing up to take advantage of the incredible deals eBay has on offer to save on Christmas shopping and shop ahead where they can.
“We predict online baskets will be filled with items such as gym equipment, toys and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy as we stay home more and put an increased focus on keeping our minds and bodies healthy.”
Pippa Wicks, executive director at John Lewis, said it will “undoubtedly be a Black Friday like no other”, with 39 of its 42 shops closed as a result of lockdown measures.
She said: “We are offering hundreds of Black Friday deals at John Lewis and are also continuously monitoring the prices of our high street competitors as part of our commitment to being never knowingly undersold.
“This means that our customers can be sure we offer the best value on the high street throughout the Black Friday period and in the run-up to Christmas.”
However, analysts at EY said that early Christmas shopping and restrictions have impacted the importance of the sales event.
Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland retail partner, said: “Once a big event for the retail industry, the reality is that Black Friday’s significance has diminished.
“This year, retailers have brought offers forward due to the national restrictions put in place earlier this month so it’s unlikely there will be significant new discounts this week.
“Now, retailers need to look beyond festive deals in order to aim for recovery and a positive start to 2021.
“What would have been a 10-year transition from physical to online sales has happened in less than a year, and retailers need to understand and adapt to likely permanent shifts in consumer behaviour.”
Read our tips on how to beat bad bargains with out top tips and tools.
We’ve previously revealed how prices could be cheaper before Black Friday.