Black Friday sales off to a ‘steady start’ despite higher cost of living predictions

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 25th Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

Black Friday sales are “off to a steady start”, latest data suggests, despite predictions the higher cost of living would dampen the sales event.

Barclaycard Payments, which processes £1 in every £3 spent using cards in the UK, said transactions so far were similar to the amount made last year.

Currys said energy-efficient products were leading its sales as customers look to save money on energy bills.

Shop footfall is up on 2021 due to there being no Covid rules this year.

But experts have predicted overall sales and profits will be lower than last year, due to customers tightening their purse strings as prices rise at the fastest rate for 41 years.


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However, Marc Pettican, head of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Our data shows that Black Friday is off to a steady start this year, despite the challenging economic backdrop.

“When looking at spending on the morning of Black Friday, so far today, transaction volumes are broadly in line with what we saw this time last year.”

Meanwhile, Mark Nalder, director of payment strategy at Nationwide Building Society, said early indications were that this Black Friday “will be the busiest shopping day of the year” with purchases currently up 16% on an average Friday.

“Despite cost of living pressures, transactions are already up 7% on last year,” he said.

Black Friday has morphed from its former one-day shopping frenzy of a decade ago, to offers stretched over the week. Consumer group Which? found that many of the discounts found on Black Friday in 2021 could be found at other times of the year too.

Ed Connolly, chief commercial officer at electrical retailer Currys, said more people were paying by credit compared with last year.

Currys said it had seen sales soar for energy-efficient cooking appliances, with the company selling more than 18,000 air fryers in the past week.

The company said microwaves and heatpump tumble dryers were also in demand, with sales up significantly on last year.

“I think you can draw from that that customers are worried about their finances and more concerned perhaps about their future finances than they were this time last year,” Mr Connolly told the BBC's Today programme.

Footfall in shops across the UK as of midday was up 4.6% compared to last year's Black Friday, according to analysis firm Springboard.

It said shoppers were heading to large city centres rather than smaller high streets, but its figures showed that footfall across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres this year was well below Black Friday events before the pandemic, which may be a sign more people are shopping online.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said 2022's footfall showed while trading conditions were “challenging, Black Friday is certainly not a disaster”.

“We are also expecting footfall to strengthen this afternoon as those consumers who are working from home go shopping after lunch,” she said.

“The dry and sunny weather will also help drive up activity, as will the England v USA World Cup match this evening as shoppers may well head into towns and cities and do some shopping and then watch the match from bars in town centres.”

The promising sales for retailers appears to have exceeded predictions from industry analysts, who had forecast a dampened day of trading.

Retail expert Richard Lim told the BBC he was expecting Black Friday to be a more “muted affair”, with sales down on last year.

“Inevitably, I think what we're going to see is consumers being much more careful with their spending,” he said.

Mr Pettican, of Barclaycard Payments, said there had been an increase in transactions in the week leading up to Black Friday compared to last year.

He suggested this could be down to the “feel good factor in the run-up to the World Cup” giving retail and hospitality a boost.

Louise, 40, from Suffolk, said she would not be rushing out for this year's Black Friday sales.

“I use price trackers and can see that some things I want are cheaper in advance, about four to six weeks ahead of the sales, so I do my Christmas shopping around then,” she said.

Louise, who has two children, said all of her household bills were going up. Now shopping feels like a luxury, when she feels like she should be saving.

But some people are still keen to find a bargain.

Faye Thomson told the BBC she had been awake since 5:30am to join a queue of about 100 people outside one department store.

“I saw this one Stella McCartney bag online and I know there's only two in store so I thought I'd get here early,” she said.

Argos expecting a ‘strong day'

Business correspondent Emma Simpson at Argos distribution centre

Black Friday is in full swing at Argos's vast distribution site in Kettering. It's a 24/7 operation with some 850 workers picking and packing goods for dispatch from 100 loading bays.


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They reckon today will still be their busiest day of the year and demand is strong.

Despite the squeeze on household budgets, lots of big TVs and Sonos soundbars are flying off the pallets.

Argos believes 41% of shoppers are planning to use Black Friday for Christmas shopping. With the cost of living crisis shoppers are on the hunt for deals.