UK spending for Black Friday anticipated to fall by almost a quarter

16 Nov 2023

  • Interest in Black Friday has dropped from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023

  • Only 16% say they will “definitely buy” vs 24% last year with anticipated UK spend falling to £5.6bn, down from £7.1bn in 2022 

  • However, for those who still want to spend, £242 is the average estimated per person (up from £228 in 2022) 

  • As usual, men plan to spend 67% more than women at £299 vs £180 but we expect a bigger drop in interest from men than from women

  • Some good news for the high street as in-store and click & collect options grow in popularity 

PwC has released its annual Black Friday survey showing mixed fortunes for UK retailers in one of the biggest events of the year. The anticipated UK spend for 2023 is £5.6bn - a noticeable drop from the £7.1bn forecast in 2022. Interest has waned from 61% in 2022 to 44% in 2023, the lowest seen for a number of years - outside of the 2020 lockdown.

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.”

Notes to editors

  1. PwC’s Black Friday consumer research was carried out between 27-31 October 2023

  2. The survey consisted of a nationally representative sample of 2,000 respondents over 18 years old across all parts of the United Kingdom.

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