Shoppers in the South East are less interested in this year’s Black Friday

According to PwC‘s annual Black Friday survey, only 10% of shoppers in the South East are certain to participate in Black Friday shopping.

Interest in Black Friday has waned across the nation, dropping from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023 with anticipated spend across the UK falling to £5.6bn, down from £7.1bn in 2022.

PwC’s research reveals that in the South East, less than half of consumers (38%) are interested in spending this Black Friday and 28% are not completely confident about finding good deals.

Only 10% of respondents are definite about their plans to spend during this period, which is below the national average of 16%.

In the South East, 33% of those who made purchases in previous years have decided to forgo buying this year, while 18% expressed their intention to steer clear of Black Friday altogether.

Additionally, 11% stated that they were ‘not interested’ in participating in the shopping event this time.

Individuals intending to make purchases in the region are predominantly inclined towards online shopping, with 73% expressing a preference for online delivery, which surpasses the national average of 68%. A minority of 9% plan to utilise online click-and-collect options.

Notably, 18% of shoppers in the South East indicate a preference for in-store Black Friday shopping, which is good news for the local high streets.

David Beer, consumer markets lead for the South East, said: “Earlier this month, our Autumn Consumer Sentiment survey revealed that a larger proportion of the region is planning to cut back on Christmas spending.

“One third said they’d be spending less during the festive period. It seems that this also applies to pre-Christmas events like Black Friday, with 38% expressing interest in making the most of sales.

“Ongoing cost of living pressures are prompting consumers to carefully plan their spending and avoid impulsive purchases.”

“It is not surprising that the majority of the shoppers in the region are opting for the simplicity of online shopping and doorstep delivery. In a surprising twist, 18% are signalling a desire for the in-store Black Friday experience.

“This dual preference, a blend of online ease and in-store shopping, can contribute positively to the overall performance and profitability of retailers as they head into the holiday season.”

The UK-wide picture

The 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 group since 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.

“Looking forward, consumers still prioritise special occasions and time with family, which means that we are still optimistic about the outlook for retailers this Christmas. 

“Indeed, over one third of shoppers tell us they have started Christmas shopping earlier, with many of them doing so in order to help with budgeting for the festive period.”

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