Despite tough trading, British consumers still flocking to Black Friday sales

Discounting hits retailers at record level in lead-up to Christmas

Over 42 per cent of British consumers are planning to make Black Friday purchases this week, with 25 per cent also splashing out on Cyber Monday.

Research from KPMG revealed that despite controversies over the US shopping trend encouraging over-spending and drawing shoppers away from their families during the American Thanksgiving celebrations, British shoppers are still using the event to stock up on their Christmas presents.

KPMG’s survey, which was conducted by YouGov, found 22 per cent are specifically shopping for Christmas presents, with 12 per cent of consumers also using Cyber Monday for the same reason.

“Retail performance throughout the year has been dreary to say the least, and we’ve certainly had a shaky start to the all-important ‘golden’ quarter,” KPMG’s head of retail Paul Martin said.

“Retailers will naturally be keen to make the most of these events, and our survey would certainly suggest that consumers are gearing up for it.

“The key to success though, is to translate any sales growth into all-important profit. But with their margins under significant pressure at the moment, that requires retailers to both exercise exceptional cost efficiency and supreme advance planning if the likes of Black Friday are to benefit the bottom line.”

Some 17 per cent of shoppers will also use the event to buy items for themselves, and 18 per cent noted that they intended to buy something for a family member.

Meanwhile KPMG’s findings also suggest the promotional period is far more popular among younger consumers, with 75 per cent of shoppers aged 18-24 saying they would be shopping during Black Friday.

That compares to just 36 per cent of 45-54 year olds and 24 per cent of people over 55.

“We have become a nation of debtors,” said KPMG head of financial services Jon Holt.

“Credit is still so easily available that many people borrow without even recognising they’re doing it; I’m regularly amazed at how people don’t consider store cards a form of credit. Black Friday plays on the excitement of spending while frictionless finance and cheap credit puts that buying buzz within everyone’s grasp.

“Our poll found that 51 per cent of respondents didn’t even think the discounts they’re offered on Black Friday are a genuine saving! Having an economy disproportionately built on debt is not sustainable for consumers, retailers or financial services. As firms increasingly find ways to make spending even easier, they also need to put equal effort into helping people spend smarter.”

Amazon, Currys PC World and Argos all kicked off their Black Friday campaigns early this week amid predictions that sales in the UK would hit £10.4 billion.

GlobalData forecast Black Friday sales to grow 3.1 per cent year-on-year, which is faster than the UK retail market for the whole fourth quarter as the promotional period draws in spend from before and after the event.

The findings come days after Which? revealed that nearly 90 per cent of Black Friday deals can be found at cheaper or same prices at other times of the year.

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