Britons are expected to splurge £42.4bn in the run-up to Christmas – £1.5bn more than last year – as retailers brace themselves for an American-style Black Friday shopping frenzy set to take over their websites and stores this week.
Sales are forecast to rise by four per cent year-on-year in the period starting from today until the end of December, accountancy firm Deloitte said, with online shopping accounting for 13 per cent of total sales.
The Christmas shopping season will kick off in earnest on Friday, when some of the high street’s biggest names, including John Lewis, Argos, Debenhams and Currys PC World, will copy their US rivals in slashing the prices of thousands of products such as TVs and toys.
Black Friday, which follows Thanksgiving and was so-called because it marked the point in the year when retailers broke into the black, was introduced to the UK by US retailers, including Amazon and has now become a key part of the Christmas sales calendar.
According to Visa Europe, 8.5m online transactions will take place on the day – up 22 per cent year-on-year – with shoppers spending £1m every three minutes.
It predicts £518m will be spent online on Friday. Visa Europe says this will be followed by £500m on so-called Mega Monday – which before the rise of Black Friday was the busiest online shopping day of the year as people spent their November pay packets.
Deloitte’s retail boss Ian Geddes said the growing popularity of click-and-collect would help to drive footfall in stores, with £2.5bn in sales expected to be ordered online and then collected in-store this Christmas.
“The core Christmas [shopping] period is getting longer. It is starting earlier, and thanks to click- and-collect and improving consumer confidence in deliveries, it is going on for longer,” he said.
Several retailers including Tesco will be extending Black Friday promotions to stores as well as online, with others, including Sainsbury’s, taking part for the first time.