Retailers preparing for a bargain feeding frenzy on Black Friday are at risk of overestimating demand, as weak sales data cast a shadow over the start of the crucial Christmas season.
Black Friday, which started off as a day of bargains ahead of Christmas imported from America, has become a length period of discounting on this side of the Atlantic over the past five years.
However, the discounting is weighing on retailers' thin margins, and there are doubts about how popular it is with consumers.
Almost two-thirds of consumers expect to spend less on Black Friday than they did last year, according to a new survey published today by consultancy Retail Economics and trade publication Retail Week. A quarter of respondents said they were spending less because they were not interested in the deals.
This year, retailers will be hoping to regain lost ground over Black Friday and Christmas after retail sales fell for the first time since 2013 in October. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed sales were down by 0.3 per cent year-on-year.