Black Friday: Shoppers shun stores and opt for online deals as experts say £8billion could be spent
Experts anticipate consumers spending billions of pounds on discount deals despite anticipated shortages and some major retailers shunning the sales as Britain’s Black Friday bonanza officially began today.
Accounting specialists Pwc are predicting shopping splurges to double what they were last year when the UK was in lockdown, with up to £9billion expected to be spent across the country amid fire sales today.
Known as the ‘golden period’ for retailers in the run-up to the festive period, Black Friday shoppers’ spending has eclipsed that of the entirety of the Christmas week sales in recent years.
And although it was traditionally limited to November 26, major outlets including Asda, Currys, GAME and John Lewis have all planned for longer sales in 2021, despite lingering supply chain concerns affecting stock levels and delivery driver recruitment stalling.
But any stores expecting an immediate boom on Friday morning were left disappointed, as pictures showed a near-empty Oxford Street in west London, and not a single person queueing for discounted deals at the opening of stores at Silverlink Retail Park in north Tyneside.
Meanwhile, 85 per cent of independent retailers have said they will opt out of any Black Friday deals, with many saying they will instead protect the High Street after struggling through the pandemic.
A very quiet Oxford Street shopping area in west London on Black Friday at 8am, with tube strikes and online sales having a knock-on effect for in-store purchases
By 10am on Friday morning, shoppers started to arrive in bigger numbers to browse the deals on offer at stores on Oxford Street
Accounting specialists Pwc are predicting shopping splurges to double what they were last year when the UK was in lockdown, with up to £8.7billion expected to be spent across the country amid fire sales today
Despite advertising big Black Friday sales, several stores in Oxford Street, west London including John Lewis and Primark saw little to no queues on Friday morning
Not a single person could be seen queuing as the doors opened at 8am at a Currys electrical store in North Tyneside on Black Friday
But in Manchester city centre (above), consumers braved a wet and windy start to Friday to queue for Black Friday bargains at Footlocker at around 8am
Known as the ‘golden period’ for retailers in the run-up to the festive period, Black Friday shoppers’ spending has eclipsed that of the entirety of the Christmas week sales in recent years. Above: Queues forming at Zara in Westfield Shopping Centre, London
The scenes in British shops are a far cry from 2014, the year after Asda imported the tradition from the US, when thousands of shoppers camped out overnight and dashed into stores to get their hands on discounted items. Pictured: An empty JD in Oxford Street, west London
Businesses are shutting down their websites for the day while others are donating their profits to charity to take a stand against large online sellers such as Amazon.
Black Friday started in the U.S. as big corporations indulged in mass sales in the run-up to Christmas. But the event has been widely criticised for its impact on the High Street which cannot compete with the rock-bottom prices.
Dr Jackie Mulligan, who advises on the Government’s High Streets Task Force, says: ‘Black Friday is an American event which has decimated our High Streets and taken away our Christmas spirit.
‘This year of all years it feels especially insulting. Independent retailers really are living on a knife edge after the past year of lockdowns.’
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of Bira, added: ‘At the start of the pandemic, we saw customers turn to online providers because there was no other choice, and the large companies such as Amazon were the big winners.’
It’s the Gucci treasure hunt! Designer items will be hidden in the aisles at Asda as part of Black Friday bonanza
ASDA is hoping to spark a Black Friday treasure hunt today by hiding Gucci fashions in its George range.
The supermarket is putting 30 cut-price second-hand items from the fashion house in some of its 50 clothing departments in a bid to attract designer label devotees.
With new Gucci styles costing up to £4,000 for a coat and even socks retailing at £145, lucky shoppers could net a special bargain.
Millions will spend today shopping online or rushing to UK stores hoping for huge discounts.
The Asda offer is linked to a partnership with vintage wholesaler Preloved, where second-hand clothes – including designer labels and sought after sports brands – are resold in an effort to make fashion more sustainable.
It also coincides with the release of Ridley Scott’s House Of Gucci film, starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga.
Asda said: ‘Thirty exclusive pieces will be hidden in stores around the UK, with teasers on social media encouraging customers to hunt through their local Asda for the chance to purchase a piece of designer history for as little as £12.
‘We have some of the fashion house’s iconic shirts, jackets and dresses.’
Bargains include a £2,000 coat jacket for £25 and an £800 black and purple dress for £15, as well as a leaf print blouse from the Gucci Spring 2009 collection, worth an estimated £400, and a red skirt worth around £700, for which Asda prices have not been revealed.
Steve Lynam, managing director of Preloved, said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to offer their customers the chance to pick up something they have always dreamed of owning in their local supermarket.’
Black Friday is now predominantly an online event in the UK.
However, retail analysts still believe there will be around 20 per cent more people on the streets today than a week ago.
Direct Line is predicting spending of £12billion on 30million items.
The scenes in British shops are a far cry from 2014, the year after Asda imported the tradition from the US, when thousands of shoppers camped out overnight and dashed into stores to get their hands on discounted items, with some even coming to blows.
This year, Asda has opted for a new approach by teaming up with luxury fashion house Gucci to provide huge savings in a handful of their stores.
Tying in with the release of House of Gucci in cinemas, lucky shoppers who find one of 30 exclusive vintage pieces from the iconic Italian brand in an Asda store today will be able to purchase it at a hugely discounted rate.
Lauren Mallins from George at Asda said: ‘Whether you are a lover of vintage or just want to make more sustainable choices, our hand-picked PreLoved pieces are always a treasure trove of gems and now Gucci is adding to our customers’ reasons to shop with us.’
Amanda McCourt, who runs sustainable underwear brand Pantee with her sister Katie, said they will shut down the website for the day and only allow access to members.
She said: ‘Black Friday was never something we were going to get into. Our brand is all about sustainability which is why we decided to come up with Black Out Friday instead.’ Katie and Amanda set up Pantee in February during lockdown.
Amanda, 29, says: ‘Our mum was always very sustainable so we’ve always been conscious of what we buy. I was never somebody who would have indulged massively in Black Friday sales.’
Artist Sarah Hamilton, who runs independent retailer campaign group Just A Card, said: ‘Every single sale counts for a small business. I just want shoppers to know that even the smallest purchase can make a big difference.’
Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘Rather than reaching for the same old brands – where deals might not be all they seem in any case – shop bespoke, receive one-to-one personal service and give some new restaurants, cafes and pubs a try.’
Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London, said it was predicting a surge in footfall on Black Friday with numbers returning to returning to about 80% of pre-Covid levels seen in 2019 – when hundreds of thousands of shoppers hit the mall.
Scott Parsons, chief operating officer at Westfield’s, told MailOnline: ‘Although there isn’t a major focus on Black Friday activity at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, this date usually marks the start of the Christmas shopping season for our retailers.
‘In addition to offers and events; brands that have invested in experience-led retail such as new technologies, personalised services and gamified shopping experiences, are also expected to perform well with 81% of consumers telling us they’re willing to pay more for this kind of experience.
‘At our centres, we are seeing positive footfall tracking at around 80% on 2019 which means there will be a real buzz this weekend, but thanks to the sheer scale of our centres, plus extensive outdoor dining and family entertainment including the Winter Chalets Igloos on Westfield Square, visitors can enjoy a comfortable and safe day out.’
Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London, said it was predicting a surge in footfall on Black Friday. Pictured: Queues for Zara at Westfield London on Black Friday morning
Tube strikes, lingering supply chain concerns affecting stock levels and delivery driver recruitment stalling means Black Friday sales could look very different in 2021. Pictured: An empty H&M store in Oxford Street, west London on Friday
Long lines of shoppers wait outside the Zara store in Westfield Shopping Centre, London on Black Friday
Young shoppers eagerly queue outside of a JD Sports store in Newcastle on Friday morning as they prepare to bag a bargain in the Black Friday event
High street footfall has taken a significant hit in recent years as consumer spending habits continue to drift towards an online-first approach with thousands of offers available within the space of a few clicks.
As that trend continues, compounded with concerns about Covid-19 health measures, shoppers are again expected to opt for deals on the web rather than in-store in 2021.
Amazon slashed hundreds of prices earlier this month in what is now dubbed ‘Black Friday week’, with the American giant’s top-selling items last year including hoovers, electric razors, makeup, Alexa devices and Fire Sticks.
But some stores, including Next and Marks and Spencer, have refused to take part in Black Friday deals this year, instead opting to offer savings and value throughout the calendar year.
Jon Williams, trading operations director at John Lewis, said the store was anticipating a return to pre-pandemic levels of spending, with sales already increasing 40 per cent week-on-week.
Analysis from global consultancy firm Simon-Kucher & Partners confirms these predictions, with more than half of UK shoppers admitting they were going to buy something on Black Friday, with the average spend seen in Britain likely to hit around £214.
And Linda Ellett, head of consumer markets at analysts KPMG, warned deals were likely to be impacted by lingering supply chain issues and shortages of seasonal warehouse workers and delivery drivers.
She told the BBC: ‘As rising costs start to bite hard into margins and supply chain issues impact the availability of goods, it leaves very little room for the mega discounting events we have seen in previous years.’
Electrical retailer AO World moved early to secure 500 additional drivers for Black Friday sales, but admitted they were still struggling to acquire gaming stock due to a global shortage of microchips.
It comes as consumer expert magazine Which? warned this week that 99.5 per cent of Black Friday ‘deals’ were in fact cheaper or the same price in the six months before the big day.
Now eco mob target Black Friday: XR activists lock themselves to bamboo towers and scaffolding as they block 13 Amazon warehouses across the UK
By Rory Tingle, Home Affairs Correspondent for MailOnline
Protesters with ‘lock-ons’ and placards have stopped lorries entering the Scottish site and some from leaving.
XR’s spokesperson at the Dunfermline blockade, Meg Paton-Jones, said: ‘The police have one van on site and they are watching us.
‘We started here at about 4am but are not blocking the employees’ car park so the night shift can leave.
‘We have good vibes and music.’
An XR spokesperson added: ‘The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday.
‘The blockade is part of an international action by XR targeting 15 Amazon fulfilment centres in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands, aimed at highlighting Amazon’s ‘crimes’.
‘This is happening in solidarity with activists and workers from the global Make Amazon Pay campaign, demanding better working conditions, clear environmental commitments, and for Amazon to pay their fair share of tax.
‘Amazon continues to lobby the US government to fight against climate legislation while telling the public they are committed to green initiatives.
‘They are committing the very definition of greenwash.’
Protester Eleanor Harris, from Glasgow, said: ‘It is essential we move to a new model of economics that prioritises wellbeing and sustainability over profit.
‘The era of exploitative throw-away capitalism will soon be over, either by changing to meet the challenges we now face or by the destruction of our global habitats and societies.’
XR demonstrate outside an Amazon warehouse at Manchester Airport, blocking Sunnybank Lane, that leads to the warehouse
XR – seen in Darlington this morning – have vowed to mount the largest ever climate change campaign next April
XR’s spokesperson at the Dunfermline blockade, Meg Paton-Jones, said: ‘The police have one van on site and they are watching us’
Amazon has published a commitment to reach net-zero carbon across the business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Today – in Dunfermline – protesters accused it of ‘greenwashing’
Maciej Walczuk, a 19-year-old student, said: ‘We have to recognise that the consumption in the global north is largely based upon the exploitation of the working class and the global south, while companies like Amazon make massive profits and contribute to worsening the climate and ecological crisis.
‘We need a new system that respects people and the planet, instead of blindly chasing profit.’
XR South East UK tweeted: ‘Extinction Rebellion blockade #AMAZON fulfilment centres across the UK and Europe on #BlackFriday holding them responsible for the damage they do to #PeopleAndPlanet. #InfiniteGrowthFinitePlanet.’
But angry social media users hit out, with one tweeting: ‘Agree with saving the climate…but you need public support to get the government to care.
‘Blocking roads just annoys folk and loses you the good will from the public (especially the working ones whose taxes pay your benefits).’
PETERBOROUGH: XR activists placed a sign along the road saying ‘infinite growth finite planet’. Protesters use bamboo structures because they take time for the police to dismantle
PETERBOROUGH: Each of the bamboo structures (including this one in Peterborough) had someone sitting inside. They are designed to be as difficult to dismantle as possible
MANCHESTER: A protester sitting on top of a wooden box in front of an Amazon fulfilment centre at Manchester Airport
MANCHESTER: Activists held up a banner saying infinite growth finite planet’ – a common phrase repeated by the likes of Greta Thunberg
Amazon has published a commitment to reach net-zero carbon across the business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
Earlier this month XR pledged to mobilise two million protestors to launch what it says will be ‘the largest act of civil resistance in UK history’ in April next year.
The environmental campaign group made the pledge today after criticising this month’s climate summit, claiming it did not go far enough to tackle the crisis.
The group said that the number of activists taking part in their demonstrations had dwindled during the pandemic but that they hoped to rely on record numbers in 2022.
In a video which draws on images of the Suffragettes, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, XR spokesperson Nuala Gathercole Lam calls for action and says: ‘When millions of people come together to demand change, governments have no choice but to act.
‘This is what’s needed now. Let’s do what works – prolonged, disruptive, non-violent civil resistance.’
XR is vowing ‘the largest act of climate resistance’ in April next year. Pictured: Protester Diana Warner glues her hand to a train as demonstrators block traffic at Canary Wharf Station on April 25, 2019
Citing research carried out at Harvard University, XR says that movements which achieved ‘active engagement’ of at least 3.5 per cent of the population have ‘never failed to bring about significant social and political change’.
The group says that 3.5 per cent of the UK population equates to 2.3 million people and has set itself the target of recruiting those people for its campaign in 2022.
XR believes if they hit this target then their protests in April next year will be ‘the largest act of civil resistance in UK history’ as it issued an appeal for people to join its cause.
Group spokesman Nuala Gathercole Lam added: ‘While our mass participation campaigns of 2019 played a significant role in driving forward the recognition of the climate and ecological crisis, XR’s actions have not yet brought about the real action on the part of government needed to reduce emissions and restore biodiversity.
‘That’s why in 2022 we will be working to grow our numbers and developing designs for civil resistance campaigns, the first of which will take place in April 2022.
‘Our mobilisation program will continue to build numbers through the year with the aim of achieving XR’s three demands.
‘The failure of COP26, and indeed the COP process generally, is devastating but not surprising – it is clearer than ever now that it’s up to all of us.’
Starting from Monday April 15, 2019, Extinction Rebellion organised several disruptive demonstrations in London targeting popular areas including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge.
As well as disrupting commuters on the roads, activists caused severe delays on the transport network by gluing themselves to trains.