UK Black Friday shopper numbers, transactions down from last year

LONDON (Reuters) -British shopper numbers and transactions edged lower on Black Friday versus last year, according to data published on Monday that will disappoint retailers looking for a pick-up in spending after a subdued October.

Barclays, which sees nearly half of Britain’s credit and debit card transactions, said the volume of transactions on Black Friday was down 0.63% compared to 2022.

“This dip in sales volumes year-on-year is perhaps expected given the impact of the cost-of-living on Brits’ discretionary spending and the trend towards launching discounts earlier in November,” said Marc Pettican, head of Barclaycard Payments.

He noted that Black Friday was still significantly busier than usual for retailers, with transactions up 2.7% compared to the equivalent Friday in October of this year, “demonstrating the continued popularity and importance of this shopping milestone.”

Retail analysts MRI Software, formerly known as Springboard, said shopper numbers across Britain on Black Friday were up 11.8% versus the previous week but fell 1.6% on a year-on-year basis.

For the full Black Friday week to Nov. 25, MRI said footfall rose 7.9% on the previous week and was up 2.0% on a year-on-year basis.

“All three destination types – high streets, shopping centres and retail parks – saw consistent rises in footfall throughout the week,” said Jenni Matthews, MRI’s marketing and insights director.

MRI said weekly footfall was 12.6% below 2019 levels amid the continued long-term shift to online shopping.

Across the world, Black Friday appeared subdued compared with prior years.

Official UK data published earlier this month showed British retail sales volumes fell unexpectedly in October, stoking recession fears.

Separate survey data published on Monday by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed sales continued to fall in November.

Despite the gloomier data, the CBI said retailers turned slightly more optimistic about the outlook for their businesses in the coming months.

Major retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Next, Primark and Marks & Spencer, have recently made confident comments about prospects in the key Christmas trading period.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Paul Simao)