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Scots set to leave Black Friday in the dark as interest declines

Posted: 20th November 2023

Scottish shoppers are turning their backs on one of the biggest events of the year, according to PwC UK’s annual Black Friday survey – with just 35% saying they’re interested in buying this year.

The latest analysis shows interest in Black Friday has waned across the UK – dropping from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023 – with anticipated spend falling to £5.6bn, down from £7.1bn in 2022.

PwC’s latest analysis shows appetite for the pre-Christmas shopping event north of the border is below the UK average, with just 13% saying they will ‘definitely buy’ and just over one fifth (22%) saying they ‘may buy’.

Of those surveyed in Scotland, more than one third (37%) said they were ‘not interested’ in Black Friday, with 14% vowing to completely avoid bargain-hunting. Another 14% said that, despite buying previously, they had no plans to do so this year.

Those planning purchases in Scotland are most likely to do so online, with 77% intimating that they will opt for online delivery – higher than the UK average of 68%. Whilst only 6% say they plan to use click and collect options, almost one fifth of shoppers (18%) say they will do their Black Friday shopping in-store.

Susannah Simpson, Partner at PwC Scotland, said:
“Just a few weeks ago, our Autumn Consumer Sentiment survey revealed that almost a third of Scots had plans to cut back on festive spending – and it seems this even applies to bargain-hunting for Black Friday. The decreased interest in the annual shopping event north of the border could be indicative of the fact that many people told us they planned to start Christmas shopping even earlier than usual – meaning they’re not holding off for Black Friday offers to bolster their festive haul. Rising costs in other areas are still impacting households, with consumers opting for a more planned and methodical approach to spending.

“And whilst Scots are indicating that they’ll very much be taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping and home delivery, the fact that one fifth of shoppers still want the in-store experience for Black Friday should provide a welcome pre-Christmas boost to retailers.”

The UK 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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