Black Friday fires mobile industry to record sales

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Retailers and distributors see huge surge in demand for devices, accessories and airtime deals

Black Friday fever gripped the mobile industry last month with retailers and distributors reporting hundreds of thousands of additional sales during the one-day extravaganza.

The American-adopted sales event, now in its third year in the UK, took place on November 27 with an estimated £2 billion spent by consumers on discounted items online and in stores during the 24 hours.

O2, Vodafone, EE, Carphone Warehouse and A1 Comms reported a substantial sales increase for smartphones, tablets, accessories and airtime connections.

“Sales of mobile phones this year will be up significantly thanks to the growing number of retailers and operators taking part,” said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech consumer insight director Imran Choudhury. “The mobile industry has played a major part in Black Friday’s success this year.”

Record breaking

Carphone Warehouse was one of the strongest performers, claiming its ‘Black Tag’ offers on handset and airtime contracts saw it sell a new connection every three seconds, equivalent to a record-breaking 28,000 new customers in a single day. This is up 78 per cent compared to last year’s event. In October, the retailer sold 129,000 airtime connections in total, equivalent to 4,100 per day – marking a sevenfold daily increase on Black Friday.

Carphone Warehouse MD Jeremy Fennell hails "record" Black Friday
Carphone Warehouse MD Jeremy Fennell hails “record” Black Friday

Sales according to the firm’s MD Jeremy Fennell were fuelled by a £200 discount on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and £100 off the iPhone 6s on Vodafone and EE contracts respectively.

“We know our customers are always looking for great value and we are thrilled with the feedback and sales so far,” said Fennell. “Our website has been particularly busy with more than 2.2 million site visits since we opened our ‘Black Tag’ event.”

Online retailer A1 Comms told Mobile News that Black Friday was one of its “best trading days ever”, with traffic on its consumer website, buymobiles.net, more than doubling and smartphone sales increasing by over 60 per cent, compared to a normal trading day. No comparison figures were available.

Online retailer Mobile Fun saw sales bolstered by 40 per cent due to special offers, including up to 50 per cent off selected cases, headphones, Bluetooth headsets, SIM-free smartphones, Bluetooth speakers, stylus and wireless charging pads.

Tremendous

Leading UK technology distributors also saw record trade, with Exertis, Brightstar, Tech Data Mobile and Westcoast seeing vast stock orders.

Brightstar UK and Ireland MD Jim Michel said the rise in shipments had been “tremendous”, with most additional stock being taken by four of the major high street retailers, including Argos,  that the distributor works with.

Rival Westcoast, which recently began supplying the iPhone, said mobile shipments were more than three times higher than on a typical day’s trading.

Exertis said he expected shipments to surpass 100,000 on Black Friday, up 60,000 on a normal day and twice as many as Black Friday in 2014, although this was not exclusive to mobile. The Basingstoke firm also brought in additional staff to cope with demand from fulfilment partners including Argos, ShopDirect and Amazon which sold more than 5.5 million products at a rate of 64 items per second.

blackfridayTech Data Mobile’s UK MD Matt Child said the sales day had contributed to a “record-breaking November” for the distributor, and thanked partners for their support.

“Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have contributed to Tech Data Mobile having a record November, particularly in customer breadth, servicing more customers than we have ever serviced before,” Child added.

Exertis said it expected shipments to surpass 100,000 on Black Friday, up 60,000 on a normal day and twice as many as Black Friday in 2014, although this was not exclusive to mobile.

The Basingstoke firm brought in additional staff to cope with demand from fulfilment partners including Argos, Shop Direct and Amazon, which sold more than 5.5 million products at a rate of 64 items per second.

Tech Data Mobile’s UK MD Matt Child said the sales day had contributed to a “record-breaking November” for the distributor.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday have contributed to Tech Data Mobile having a record November, particularly in customer breadth, servicing more customers than ever before,” Child added.

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