PwC has released its annual Black Friday survey showing mixed fortunes for retailers in one of the biggest events of the year.
The anticipated UK spend for 2023 is £5.6bn - a noticeable drop from the £7.1bn forecast in 2022. Interest from shoppers has waned from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023, the lowest seen for a number of years - outside of the 2020 lockdown.
PwC’s research shows that half (50%) of consumers in Northern Ireland (NI) are interested in spending this Black Friday, with 32% saying they may pick up a deal, compared to 28% across the UK. Close to one in five (18%) of consumers here are definitely planning to buy something, compared to a UK average of 16%.
This is in contrast to 2021 and 2022 levels where 24% of consumers across the UK planned to definitely purchase in the Black Friday period.
Most NI consumers planning to buy this Black Friday will do so online (63%), versus 68% in the UK, but just over one in three (38%) are planning to spend in-store or via click and collect, compared to 32% UK wide, which will drive much needed footfall to local high streets.
Aine O’Hare, Tax partner at PwC Northern Ireland, comments:
“Local interest in Black Friday bargain hunting remains significant, and it is encouraging to see local consumers are planning to spend in store, which is welcome news for our high streets.
“The hope for consumer-facing businesses as we head into Black Friday is that NI shoppers will want their money to go further this Christmas by taking advantage of early bargains and trying to spread the cost of Christmas over a longer time period. Local retailers should capitalise on this opportunity to attract customers through offering value for money.”
Jason Calvert, director and economist at PwC Northern Ireland, added:
“The latest inflation figures show that inflation in October was 4.6%, down from 6.7% in September, and falling from its peak of 11.1% in October 2022, which will be welcome news for consumers in NI as we head into the festive period. However, our analysis shows that households in NI have, on average, lower levels of disposable income and less flexibility in their households budgets than in other parts of the UK, so consumers here may not feel out of the woods yet.
“Cost-of-living pressures are still impacting here, with a third of NI consumers telling us they are expecting to spend less on Christmas presents and festivities as a result, so many will be keen to take advantage of bargains offered by Black Friday.”
Black Friday across the UK
PwC’s research shows that the greatest interest is from under-45s and Black Friday shopping continues to be predominantly an online phenomenon. Even so, interest for the under-45s has dropped by between 15 and 20 percentage points. This year interest levels have also equalised between men and women, with men having been more enthusiastic Black Friday shoppers in the past.
Overall, the proportion who don't intend to buy at all has increased from 39% in 2022 to 56% in 2023.
Men are more likely to buy for themselves (70%) with their most popular category being technology and electronics (59% of male shoppers). Conversely, women are more interested in buying for the family (74%) and their top categories are fashion (42%), tech (40%) and Christmas gifts (39%). Also, women have a higher interest in spending on fashion this year compared with last (38% vs 32% in 2022).
Whilst it remains predominantly an online event in the UK (68% of spending), a bigger proportion of spending is expected to be in-store this year. One in three pounds of Black Friday spending are expected to be in-store or via click and collect, compared with one in four pounds two years ago. This is driven by young people with almost half of spending by under 25s expected to be in-store or by click and collect.
This echoes earlier research carried out by PwC that showed a post pandemic resurgence of young people wanting to experience shopping in real life.
The main reasons for the drop in interest in Black Friday varies by age group:
• Older generations state that they have nothing they want to buy, or are less interested in sales and promotions more generally; while they typically have more disposable income than other age groups, they are more likely to be prioritising holidays and leisure spending.
• Amongst families, the most common reason for not shopping over Black Friday is that they are cutting back on spending this year (30% of non-participating 35-44 year olds cite this reason).
• For under 25s, a large proportion blamed not having enough money to buy anything this year, which is consistent with the fall in sentiment experienced by this age groupsince earlier in the year.
Lisa Hooker, Leader of Industry for Consumer Markets at PwC UK, discusses why Black Friday remains an important part of the Golden Quarter calendar:
“Shoppers are telling us they want to spend less this Black Friday for a number of reasons. For men who look forward to a deal on the latest technology, some may be put off by fewer new releases. For many, purse strings are a little tighter this time around, with the improvement in consumer sentiment we saw earlier in the year having slowed over the summer. Finally, the timing of Black Friday a little earlier this year and before payday for many people will inevitably have an impact on spending.
“But not all is lost. For those interested in Black Friday, spending per head is expected to be higher, with the top three categories of interest remaining technology, fashion and gifting. And there is an opportunity for retailers to convert the 28% of shoppers that are in the ‘may be interested’ category - we know British consumers love a bargain, so putting the right promotion in front of them could turn into promising sales.”