RETAILERS are readying themselves for a record Black Friday despite suggestions of shopper “fatigue” after days of discounting ahead of the main event.
The pre-Christmas sales bonanza – previously a 24-hour affair that has become the UK’s biggest shopping day – has seen most major retailers start their Black Friday deals early. Many stores are promising far more new deals today and extending their opening hours.
Experts have pointed to the evolving nature of the event, with many predicting increased spending online this year.
Retailers hope for an improved performance from their websites, many of which struggled to cope with the volume of traffic last year.
John Lewis, whose Black Friday offers last year translated into its biggest week for sales in its 150-year history, said it had prepared for a smooth online experience.
British shoppers are expected to spend £2.3 million a minute this Black Friday – a 19 per cent increase on last year – despite warnings they should “ignore the hype” and exercise caution.
Some 14 million British consumers are expected to participate in the global shopping event, and will spend a predicted total of £1.96 billion, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
Online spending on Black Friday is expected to reach £1bn, up 16 per cent on last year, while it is anticipated that the majority who opt for the high street will spend a lower total of around £961m.
A survey for BHS.com found 21 per cent of shoppers planned to spend more this year than last year.
Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland managing director at Visa, said: “Looking at the spending patterns last year, Black Friday shifted online in a big way.
“Spending was predominantly spread across the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With major retailers focusing more on online and mobile channels this year, as well as launching promotions early, the shape of Black Friday spend is likely to evolve from last year.”
Consumer group Which? has already warned shoppers to “do your research” after finding half of last year’s deals were cheaper in the months before and after Black Friday.
John Willcock, head of credit cards at Post Office Money, said: “Many people feel retailers are extending the Christmas sales season to be longer than ever befoe, leading some to feel a certain element of ‘discount fatigue’. However, our research shows events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still very popular as people try to offset Christmas expenses.”