Black Friday demand ‘overestimated’

Retailers have been accused of hyping up consumer interest in Black Friday.

New research from Retail Economics and Retail Week has suggested that the novelty of Black Friday may be wearing off, with just 19 per cent of shoppers saying they were planning to take advantage of the discounts on offer.

However, despite lower consumer spending, our sector can take solace in the revelation that 24 per cent of shoppers said that electricals were the item they were most likely to purchase over the discounting period. Although two-thirds expected their spending to be less than £200.

The study showed that younger consumers tended to show more interest. Of those that planned to shop during the sales period, 62 per cent expected to spend less than last year.

A quarter of shoppers said the reason they were planning to spend less this year was due to a “lack of interest” in the event. More than a quarter (27 per cent) said they would spend around the same.

Retailers appeared to be more optimistic, with 46 per cent expecting consumer spending to be stronger than last year, compared with 11 per cent of consumers.

Online still remains dominant, with a third of consumers planning to do more of their Black Friday spending online this year – significantly higher than last year.

However, 42 per cent of shoppers said they were expecting discounts to be worse than last year.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, commented: “Despite the retail frenzy brought about by Black Friday over the past couple of years, new research from Retail Economics and Retail Week shows that UK consumers may be growing tired of the event, with just 19 per cent of shoppers planning to participate – down on last year’s levels.

“What’s more, our research shows there is a mismatch between consumers’ and retailers’ perceptions of Black Friday, with 46 per cent of retailers expecting higher demand compared with just 11 per cent of consumers who said they intend to spend more this year.

“Indeed, just under a quarter of consumers suggested that they would spend less during the event, because they were losing interest, while a further 42 per cent thought that retailer discounts would be worse than last year.”

He added: “An acceleration on last year’s trends are expected, with a third of consumers saying that they would do more of their Black Friday shopping online. This shift in spending is anticipated by retailers, three-quarters of whom thought online would be more popular this year.

“Fading demand for Black Friday is not necessarily a bad thing for retailers who would rather see incremental spend spread across the whole of the Christmas season than discounted sales pulled forward at the expense of future demand. It also eases pressure on capacity constraints for retailers who have previously struggled with crowded stores, failing websites and poor customer experiences.”