Black Friday heralds raft of offers from big retailers but event ‘not what it once was’

Black Friday takes place tomorrow heralding a raft of pre-Christmas discounts by major retailers.

The annual shopping event, a tradition imported from the US, has become less of a prominent date on retail calendars recently.

Today it is less likely to mean shoppers queuing overnight for bargains as some of the more excessive hype fades, with retailers themselves potentially wary about discounting too heavily ahead of bumper December trading.

But major retailers such as Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, Currys, Boots and Apple are taking part, with deals on products from Lego to laptops and TVs, games consoles and beauty products also featuring prominently among offers.

Currys said that last year – when online orders were boosted by shops being shut – it had over 10 million more visitors over the Black Friday weekend than in 2019, with traffic peaking between about 9am and 12pm.

Data company Springboard has predicted that Black Friday shopping will receive a bump this year with a 7.9% boost to shopper footfall due to consumers worried about supply chain issues bringing forward Christmas purchases.

Meanwhile, an investigation by consumer organisation Which? has found that not all deals over the period will be the bargains they are made out to be.

It found that in nine out of ten cases it looked out, they were the same price or cheaper over the six months before.

The British Independent Retailers Association, which represents about 6,000 firms, has said that about 85% of its members will not take part in the event.

Smaller operators are less likely to be able sell at the volumes at which they can make heavy discounting work for them.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: “Black Friday is not the retail event it once was.

“The number of British shoppers capitalising on deals is expected to fall versus before the pandemic with economic pressures from rising prices and a fractured supply chain translating into fewer discounts.

“On top of that there has been an increase in climate consciousness after COP26, with most of us trying to consume fewer cheap goods, particularly clothes that we don’t necessarily need.

“Some of the biggest retailers in the UK including Next and Marks & Spencer alongside many independent retailers have opted out of Black Friday this year.

“However, most retailers are still participating in the hope that higher turnover will offset the reduced margins.”

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