…it’s that time of year again. You can almost hear the pop of wallets and purses opening in ready anticipation. High street retailers – from John Lewis to Carphone Warehouse, Apple to Tesco – are getting ready to discount in a big way to drive pre-festive sales.

The UK’s Black Friday is a recent phenomenon that took hold in 2013 with increasingly violent scenes, finally coming to a head in 2014. It was Armageddon. What is it about this infamous yearly shopping spree that gets people so over excited?

Psychologists point to the fact that seeing things you like, and at a low cost, activates the nucleus accumbens in the brain’s reward centre. Think shopping high x 100.

But last year, despite wide discounts being offered across a range of retailers, high street scenes were oddly subdued. Don’t be mistaken – sales were higher than ever, but it was online where the real sales were happening.

Online outshines

Last year Curry’s PC World had five online orders per second, an increase of 56% on 2014. Website visits totalled 3.5 million visits within 24hrs.

They were not alone. John Lewis sales were mainly driven by online purchases, and this trend is set to continue. Amazon’s success in using big data to personalise shopping experiences has now been widely adapted by other retailers.

Online shopping is more efficient than ever. Personalised shopping experiences are almost like you’ve got your own personal shopper highlighting everything you need and more, without the awkward small talk, big queues and elbows.

It’s little surprise people are hovering over their keyboards rather than standing out in the cold, waiting for stores to open.

This year’s Black Friday evolutionary step could well be the use of data (big, small and smart) and its importance to fuel online sales. Online retailers have been gathering our data for a while now and this, combined with the annual surge in online sales thanks to Black Friday, means they have a golden opportunity to maximise how well they know us. So isn’t it about time for us to see retailers demonstrate some real innovation in data usage?

Will Cyber Monday finally put an end to broken bones, trampled toes, and rising tempers…?

We shall have to wait and see.