Customers are snapping up air fryers, heat pump tumble dryers and energy efficient gadgets on credit cards as Black Friday coincides with the cost of living crisis.
Electricals retailer Currys said it had already noticed customers changing their behaviour to focus more on ‘essential domestic products’ rather than luxury tech like computers and plasma screens – much of it paid on credit.
Ed Connolly, the firm’s chief commercial officer told BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘In electricals buying on one type of credit or other is the norm. That’s because people want to be able to spread the cost, and we offer affordable ways for people to do that.
Large queues had already formed outside the Lego Store in Leicester Square by 9am today at the start of Black Friday
A branch of trainer store Size? in Liverpool had already attracted a hefty queue of shoppers for the start of sales today
‘More people are taking it up than this time last year. The obvious conclusion to draw is people are concerned about their own finances and are looking for ways to spread cost over a longer period of time.
‘I think when you put that together with the types of products people are buying, with energy efficient products significantly on the rise, I think you can draw from that consumers are more worried about their finances this year than last.’
Asked about the type of items people are buying, he said: ‘In Black Friday we’re seeing people prioritise essential domestic products – whereas in the past it’s been more about luxury tech. Things like microwave ovens and air fryers – which we’re selling 2,500 of per day.
‘It’s definitely the year of the air fryer. As soon as we get the stock in people are buying it, because it’s a very energy efficient way of cooking. We’re also seeing customers engage with things like heat pump tumble dryers that can save £300 on energy bills.’
Barclaycard Payments, which processes £1 in every £3 spent in the UK, said that so far today (as of 10am) the volume of payments remain consistent compared to the same period on Black Friday 2021.
Marc Pettican, Head of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Our data shows that Black Friday is off to a steady start this year, despite the challenging economic backdrop. When looking at spending on the morning of Black Friday, so far today, transaction volumes are broadly in line with what we saw this time last year.
“We have also seen an increase in transactions in the week leading up to today, with volumes up 3.46 per cent week-on-week compared to the lead up to Black Friday last year. It’s likely the feel good factor in the run up to the World Cup, with the England and Wales matches on Monday of this week, has given retail and hospitality a boost.’
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Retailers are desperate for some spending cheer but the worry is that it could turn out to be more of a Bleak Friday. With the promotional event taking place amid the cost of living storm, could consumers stay more cautious about splashing the cash?’
A survey by market research agency Opinium found more than three quarters plan to buy gifts in the sales this year, and 13 per cent will do so for the first time. But some of the lustre around the Black Friday event has been killed by concerns that many of the claimed deals are duds.
Research published this week by consumer watchdog Which? suggested there are very few deals specific to Black Friday. Often products are maintained at the discount price through to Christmas and the January sales.
Shoppers queue outside the Apple store on Regent Street on Black Friday – a retail tradition imported to the UK from America
Black Friday shoppers on Market Street in Manchester this morning near the city’s famous Christmas market
A security guard stands by as shoppers begin to file into the Lego store in Leicester Square this morning
Dozens of shoppers had already begun queuing outside the flagship Lego store before 9am
Black Friday shoppers descend upon Primark in Birmingham – even though the store is not officially offering Black Friday discounts
Two women walk past a sign advertising Black Friday sales on Market Street in Manchester
In the US, Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving. The tradition has been spread to the UK by retailers looking for a big shopping day before the start of December
Shoppers may also be put off spending online in the Black Friday sales because Royal Mail deliveries are being hit by strikes held by the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Members are today on the second day of a 48-hour walkout amid a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
Asked if there will be further strikes ahead of Christmas, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘If we don’t fight, we can be absolutely certain our members’ jobs are going to be destroyed and the service is going to be destroyed. We need to pile the pressure on.’
Courier experts ParcelHero predict families will be spending £4billion less on food, gifts and entertaining than they did last year. But its head of consumer research, David Jinks, added: ‘That doesn’t mean we will all be reduced to Christmas stockings full of nuts, knitted socks and an orange.
‘There are ways to save enough money to have a decent Christmas. Leaving enough time to buy online using free or low-cost delivery options can save pounds, rather than opting for expensive next-day deliveries.’
There is also evidence that Britons are increasingly shopping for second hand products rather than buying new.
Shoppers may also be put off spending online in the Black Friday sales because Royal Mail deliveries are being hit by strikes held by the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Pictured: Striking Royal Mail workers gather on a picket line outside Camden Town delivery office on Thursday