Black Friday 2018 – how did retailers fare with our new shopping tradition this year?

4th December 2018

Latest figures reveal that Brits might still not be on board with the American shopping tradition of ‘Black Friday. Despite turning out in force, a survey by Barclaycard revealed that they were buying more items but spending less over all.

By 3pm on Black Friday Barclaycard had seen 10% more transactions than the previous year but the value of spending was down by 12% – suggesting that Brits are being more thrifty and focusing more on bargains.

Many stores reported a fall in footfall with many shoppers preferring to stay home and hunt for bargains online. Data from PWC suggests that interest in Black Friday in the UK has waned. Some retailers in chose not to participate at all, along with three quarters of over 55s who reported that they were either not interested or actively avoiding the event.

Black Friday 2018

Regionally, Northern Irish shoppers were the most likely to get on board with Black Friday, closely followed by Londoners. Those least likely to participate were shoppers in the East of England where 61% of people stated that they were simply not interested in the event, closely followed by the South West region, where 60% said they weren’t interested.

Analyst Springboard said that the decrease in footfall and spending activity this year was likely to be effected by increasing economic pressures including high levels of consumer debt and a general rise in living costs, compounded by the fact that Black Friday was a week earlier this month, before most people had received their monthly salary.

Almost three quarters of those asked about their spending habits stated that they were planning to spend less this year. Many said this was because they were being more cautious about their spending, with 44% also citing the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit as an influence on their spending habits.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. During the peak period of the early afternoon, Barclaycard reported that they had processed a record 1,087 transactions per second between 1pm and 2pm. But while some shoppers braved chilly conditions on Friday the actual physical footfall on Oxford Street was down by 7% on the previous year.

By comparison, online spending peaked between 9 and 10am when people began shopping online and browsing from their desks at work. Online transactions in general were up by almost 50% compared to Black Friday last year.

But not everyone stayed at home and some people got into the spirit of the event. Shoppers in Newcastle queued up from 5am outside the shopping centre in Kingston Park and the Bullring in Birmingham was packed out by early afternoon.

Speaking about Black Friday, Alex Neill from Which? magazine warned that shoppers should not feel pressured into impulse buying on Black Friday. A recent study by the magazine revealed that 9 out of 10 Black Friday deals last year were the same price, or even cheaper at other times of the year:

‘While retailers are bombarding us with promises of great discounts and time-limited sales, it’s clear that not all deals are as good as they might appear. To bag a bargain, do your research and don’t get carried away by the hype when shopping in the upcoming sales.”

So although it seems like Black Friday is here to stay, Brits might never fully embrace it in the way that our American counterparts do. Initial figures indicate that spending over the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday period this year was lower than in previous years, suggesting that Black Friday spending has dipped for the first time since its arrival in the UK.

Do you embrace Black Friday with your business or go out hunting for bargains? What do you think of this American import? Let us know in the comments section below!

Picture credits:  Artem Bali and  Marcin Kempa on Unsplash