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Behind The Scenes Of Black Friday

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Thursday, 16 November 2017 GMT

Author: David McGrath


Revealed: How retailers are gearing up for Black Friday

  • Courier Insurers, Staveley Head, conducted behind the scenes research to find out what goes on after a predicted £7 billion has been spent between Black Friday & Cyber Monday
  • Staveley Head explored some of the UK’s biggest brands including Amazon, Argos and Royal Mail to see how retailers handle the sheer volume of additional orders
  • A huge 72,000 lorries and vans will be on the roads delivering Black Friday orders
  • 225 million parcels will be in transit
  • 263,701 staff are expected to manage the Black Friday chaos
  • Staveley Head launch an interactive report, where you can go behind the scenes of Black Friday

We all know what goes on during Black Friday itself, with £7 billion(1) expected to be spent online in the UK alone, with Amazon dominating the sales. But what happens after 225 million items(2) have been purchased, and how do the retail giants deal with the sheer volume of orders?

Courier Insurers, Staveley Head, have collated behind the scenes data from some of the UK’s biggest brands including Amazon, Argos, Royal Mail and more, to present to you Black Friday Logistics.

Black Friday 2017 by day: £1,736,111 will be spent every minute

Before going behind the scenes, we needed to find out what experts think will happen during the day of Black Friday in 2017.

Black Friday marks the official run-up to Christmas, leaving 29 days for you to get your orders delivered in time for the big day. This kicks off the busiest time in retail and according to IMRG, £7 billion is predicted to be spent across the weekend (Thursday 23rd – Monday 27th November).

£2.5 billion of that will be spent on Black Friday alone, as previous data shows that the Friday accounts for 36% of the weekend sales(3). That means that on the big day, £1,736,111 will be spent every single minute online(4).

Predicted spend 123

Website traffic is expected to be at its highest on Black Friday with some sites struggling to deal with the high demand. A study in 2015(5) found that 1 in 5 e-commerce websites crashed on Black Friday due to the sheer volume of traffic, this included John Lewis, Boots and Argos which all went down before 9 am.

This could prove detrimental to some brands, especially when £700 million (28% of all sales)(3) will be spent before 9 am on the day.

Retail giant Amazon sells on average 86 items per second according to last year’s data(6), and this figure is set to increase in 2017. So, what goes on during the night of Black Friday after billions of pounds have been spent, and how do retailers deal with the chaos behind the scenes?

Behind the Scenes of Black Friday 2017: 49,000 extra staff hired by retail giants

Research reveals that based on an estimated £7 billion spend, 225 million parcels will be in transit due to Black Friday sales, with Sunday being the busiest day. To help cope with the sheer volume of orders, an extra 49,000 seasonal staff(7) will be hired across Royal Mail, Argos and Amazon bringing the total staff numbers working for all brands to 263,7018.


Amazon UK will be hiring the most additional staff (20,000) across all departments, on top of their 24,000 regular employers, to deal with Black Friday. The majority will be hired to work within the 11 fulfilment centres placed across the UK.

Argos have a staff count of 29,565 people in the UK but will be hiring an extra 10,000 for the Christmas period.

Royal Mail, on the other hand, have a massive 161,136 people working for them across the UK and will be hiring a similar amount of staff to Amazon (19,000) to deal with all the deliveries, as well as the expected huge amount of returns.

Last year, £600m worth of products bought over Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the UK were tied up in return loops according to Clear Returns. Unwanted parcels cost retailers £60 billion a year, as it is said that processing an order can cost between £3 and £10, with the costs of returns double or triple that.

The average returned purchase in the UK passes through seven pairs of hands before it is listed for resale and therefore for some retailers, it’s not even worth processing. Many returned parcels are simply thrown away to save on this cost.


Figure 1 Amazon Warehouse Black Friday. Credit http://emgn.com/entertainment/19-crazy-images-of-amazon-warehouses-before-black-friday/

72,000 lorries and vans will be on the road delivering Black Friday parcels

During Amazon’s busiest 24-hour period, a lorry left one of their fulfilment centres every 1 minute 33 seconds(9). The number of vehicles delivering Black Friday orders is expected to increase dramatically bringing the total amount of vehicles to 72,000.

Hermes will be using an extra 3,000 vehicles on top of their normal 10,000 as they predict to be delivering 750,000 parcels themselves on the Sunday following Black Friday.

Brand Number of vehicles Additional vehicles for Black Friday Total on road
Royal Mail 47,000 6,800 53,800
Hermes 10,000 3,000 13,000
DPD 3,500 950 4450
UPS No info 1300 1300
Total 72,550

Black Friday is without doubt, the busiest day of the year for couriers, delivery drivers and retailers across the world, with so much work going on behind the scenes to ensure a smooth weekend.

Ashley Peters, Managing Director at Staveley Head, commented: “As insurers of Courier and HGV drivers in the UK, we wanted to go behind the scenes to see the impact of Black Friday on logistics and what happens once an order has been placed. The amount of extra staff and vans hired to deal with the sheer volume of parcels is quite incredible, and can be a very expensive, logistical nightmare for so many companies. It is therefore no surprise that some brands decide to skip Black Friday and focus purely on Christmas during peak season.

Our Black Friday logistics research aims to raise awareness of the behind the scenes effort that courier drivers, warehouse operatives, retail employees and postmen/woman go to, in order to deliver a smooth and efficient service each year.”


Notes to Editors

1. IMRG – £7 billion Black Friday online sales

2. Figure based on total spend divided by spend per person = amount of orders

3. Salmon black Friday report

4. This is calculated by simply taking the spend on Friday £2.5 billion and divided by 1440 minutes.

5. 1 in 5 ecommerce websites crash

6. Inside the Amazon warehouse on Black Friday

7. Royal Mail recruit 19,000 temp workers, Argos hiring seasonal staff, Amazon hire 20,000


Brand Annual staff + Seasonal staff Total
Royal Mail 161,136 +19,000 180,136
Argos 29,565 +10,000 39,565
Amazon 24,000 +20,000 44,000

Royal Mail annual report, Argos annual report, Amazon hire 5000 people 

9. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2849093/Getting-ready-big-one-Staff-prepare-millions-orders-pour-Amazon-warehouses-lead-week-s-Black-Friday-s-just-29-shopping-days-Christmas.html

10. Royal Mailextra trucks, planes and trains, Hermes:Black Friday peak, DPD:plan for peak days and companies expanding for Christmas, UPS:UPS Black Friday

Media information

For more information or additional commentary, contact Edit’s PR team on 0113 260 4010.

About Staveley Head

Staveley Head are insurers of Courier and HGV drivers across the UK.

Staveley Head is one of the most respected providers of insurance products to businesses and individuals in the UK. Since they began in 1991, they have steadily grown in both size and reputation, expanding their product range from just car and home insurance to business, courier and taxi insurance.

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