Black Friday spend of UK consumers set to rise

26 November 2021 3 min. read
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After a year of muted sales amid the initial waves of Covid-19, Black Friday is back with a vengeance in 2021. Ahead of the opening consumerist ritual of the festive period, a new report suggests that the willingness to buy across Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day is above 50% throughout the majority of countries, while the average budget has also bounced back from 2020’s levels.

Black Friday is a colloquial term for the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States. It traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season Stateside – but in recent years the phenomenon has spread relentlessly around the rest of the world – alongside similar consumer festivities Cyber Monday and Singles Day.

With the approach of Black Friday, global pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners has published its annual forecast of the event – focusing on changes in purchasing behaviour and demand. Inevitably, last year’s survey was coloured by the Covid-19 crisis. This gave rise to two key shifts: a significant rise in online shopping driven by safety concerns, and lower planned budgets among shoppers due to the economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic.

Planned budget for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

While the various strains of the coronavirus seem to have regrouped just in time for Christmas, this year the researchers found that stabilising economic factors have allowed customers to plan a higher spend in 2021. The large-scale survey among 11,000 respondents worldwide shows that of those who will participate in Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Singles Day, the average budget rebounded from 2020 levels – at an average of €236 this time out.

The UK saw an above average expectation of how much willing consumers planned to spend during the deal-centred days. Having agreed they would invest €223 over the same period last year, UK consumers averaged a budget of €254 this year. While this is still a long way behind China – where the average boomed to almost €400 this year – it is still the highest figure in Europe, and more than that of the US.

Speaking on the results, James Brown, a UK Managing Partner for Simon-Kucher, noted, “The satisfaction of getting a bargain and the justification of some indulgent purchases for oneself can’t be overlooked as Black Friday drivers... There will also be other consumers looking to buy now before prices go up, with inflation rocketing and supply chain constraints making must have Christmas list items far riskier to wait until later.”

Online vs. offline shopping preferences

While the average value of spending among those willing to participate in Black Friday et al is set to rise, Simon-Kucher also found a rise in the volume of customers was to be expected. The researchers noted that almost all countries had a willingness to buy at more than 50%, while this rose as high as 95% in China, and 70% in the US.

However, the UK bucked the trend here. While those spending will likely spend more, only 51% of consumers will participate this year – four points fewer than in 2020. There may be many reasons behind this, but the rising number of business collapses as the Government withdraws its support may mean many consumers on lower incomes, who make up a larger portion of the market, but are able to spend less in general – are wary of luxury spending ahead of potentially hard times.   

Meanwhile, the UK also diverged from global trends regarding ecommerce. With lockdowns returning across Europe, it might be too early to say safety concerns subsiding there are behind many countries increasingly favouring in-person shopping, and decreasingly opting for digital purchases. However, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike in the UK without any signs of a Government response, it is likely some kind of factor in the fact it is one of the few countries where favourability of online shopping is growing faster than that of physical stores. Last year, just 24% of consumers said they would prefer online shopping, but this year that more than doubled to 52%.