MANY consumers buy presents for themselves rather than Christmas gifts for their loved ones during the heavy discounting period associated with Black Friday, according to analysts at professional services firm PwC.
Black Friday is the name given to the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, when shops in the US drop their prices for 24 hours.
It’s a tradition that has been imported to the UK in recent years, with many retailers reporting soaring sales in the period leading up to Black Friday, as shoppers hunt down bargains.
Lisa Hooker, head of consumer markets at PwC, said: “One of the things that’s interesting about Black Friday is that 70 per cent of men and 55 per cent of women shop at Black Friday for themselves and not for gifting.
“Black Friday is here to stay. There were 32 per cent more card transactions on Black Friday than the prior year. A big chunk of what people buy is not about Christmas presents, it’s about themselves.”
Jacqueline Windsor, a retail strategist from PwC, added: “We’ve had a number of years of Black Friday so retailers are managing it better.
“It’s not actually about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s the two week period around that because people are starting earlier and extending longer, mostly to manage the return logistics.”
Ms Hooker and Ms Windsor made the comments before PwC’s annual Christmas retail breakfast briefing which was held in Leeds.
The audience was told that the UK economy slowed during 2017 despite an improving global economic environment. This was primarily due to rising UK inflation and a consequent squeeze on household spending power.
Ms Hooker told The Yorkshire Post: “On the run up to Christmas, people were very negative. October was a bad month, particularly for non-food. When you went into November it still was not great.
“We saw a bounce around Black Friday promotions. Christmas was not as bad as people thought. People prioritised their Christmas dinner and their food, but there was a good pick-up towards the second half of the month in non-food.
“Within the non-food certain categories did better than others..Practical gifting did well. There were areas that didn’t do so well; toys were down, beauty was slightly down,
“There was more practical gifting, so kids’ clothing was up. There was no blockbuster gifting area. There was a bit of movement into gaming because there were more gaming releases. The gaming cycle was a bit stronger this year than last year. It does ebb and flow a bit depending on who has got the innovation.”
The PwC presentation also predicted that real income growth is expected to remain subdued in 2018 and there are limits to how much further household borrowing can rise, “particularly with interest rates starting to edge up and the housing market starting to lose momentum”.
PwC has predicted that UK GDP growth could slow to around 1.5 per cent in 2018, with real consumer spending growth easing to around one per cent.
However, the stronger global economy should help offset continued Brexit-related uncertainties, PwC’s analysis said. The study found that consumers plan to rein in their spending in 2018, although priorities vary between young and old.
For example, 18 to 24 year-olds who were questioned as part of the PwC consumer survey said they were prioritising spending on holidays. All other age groups placed groceries at the top of their spending list.