UK retailers post strong Black Friday sales figures

Published on: 3rd December 2019

Timing of the event cited as a key factor behind increase in sales.

According to a report in The Guardian, suggestions that Black Friday would see shopping centres deserted as consumers shopped online have been proved wide of the mark, after figures revealing a sharp rise in sales. Barclaycard, which processes around £1 of every £3 spent in the UK, said it was an “outstanding” Black Friday in comparison to last year. It said that transaction value was up 16.5% year on year, with the volume of transactions up 7.2%. It also suggested that Cyber Monday got off to a strong start, with transaction volume up by 6.9% compared with 2018.

Interestingly, even the high street experienced a jump in sales. According to retail data company Springboard, footfall was up 3.3% on Black Friday in comparison with the same day in 2018. Shopping centres fared best, with visitor numbers up 6.5%.

A key factor which may have influenced these figures was the fact that Black Friday fell on the 29th of the month, which coincided with the monthly payday for millions of workers. Springboard found that increased footfall was strongest around 5pm, suggesting that many people joined the Black Friday party as offices shut.

However, there is growing evidence that the Black Friday sales simply displace spending that might otherwise have taken place in early December. Springboard said it was anticipating a lull in sales before a last-minute rush before Christmas, with Saturday 21 December expected to be the busiest sales day of the year.

Since 2011, shortly after Amazon first introduced the Black Friday concept to UK shoppers, high street footfall for the month of December has dropped year-on-year. Last year it fell by 2.6% compared with the previous December, and this year is expected to contract again, by about 1.5%.

Springboard also has a view on what may happen after the big day, suggesting: “Post-Christmas it is expected that footfall on 27th, 28th and 29th December will be higher than on Boxing Day, which historically was the key sales day. In 2018, footfall on each of these three days was a third higher than on Boxing Day, as many consumers now initially search for bargains online before venturing to the stores themselves.”


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