• Black Friday web traffic was up 16% against last year
  • Footfall slumped 8% across the day with high streets down 9.3% and shopping centres down 6.6%
  • Amazon notches up biggest-ever sales day on Black Friday

Black Friday web traffic was up 16% against last year while footfall slumped 8% across the day as shoppers opted to nab bargains online.

Black Friday online traffic was up 270% week on week, according to data from PCA Predict released this morning (Saturday). However, shopper numbers in stores were down, with some attributing the fall to the event being spread across more days this year as well as consumers choosing to snap up deals online instead of hitting the high street.

Online sales are expected to have reached £1bn on Black Friday and retailers are set to rake in £3.2bn by the close of Cyber Monday across stores and online.

Amazon reported its biggest-ever sales day yesterday as shoppers ordered more than six million items. That beat the record the etail giant set on Black Friday last year when more than 5.5 million items were sold.

While UK web traffic from smartphones dominated yesterday between 6am and 8am, as shoppers sought out bargains on their morning commute, desktop purchases overtook by the end of the day as consumers reached the office. Over the entire day desktop accounted for 53% of traffic, mobile 34% and tablet 13%, according to PCA Predict.

Dixons boss Seb James tweeted last night: “Massive congratulations on delivering the biggest day in our history. Truly fantastic.” Currys PC World said it pulled in over 400,000 visitors per hour to its website during peak trading, up 70% on last year. It processed five online orders per second at peak, up 56% on last year, and had 3.5 million visits to the site by late afternoon.

AO.com reported that by 9am, sales were double those at the same time on last year’s Black Friday.

Very owner Shop Direct said yesterday it was on track for its biggest trading day ever with total transactions up 24% on last year’s Black Friday.

As shoppers took to the internet over the high street, some retailers’ websites suffered under the weight of extra traffic. Websites operated by retailers including John Lewis, Argos, Boohoo, Boots and Tesco creaked under the pressure, at times unable to process orders.

Some analysts had suggested that after a lacklustre morning, footfall would pick up in the afternoon yesterday but it seems that failed to materialise.

Overall footfall slumped 8% according to Springboard, with high streets falling 9.3% and shopping centres down 6.6% between 8am and 5pm, perhaps put off from hitting the shops after the chaotic scenes of last year, particularly in Tesco and Asda stores.

And shopper numbers are expected to remain subdued across the weekend, according to FootFall. It expects to see a “marginal” rise in shopper traffic on Saturday, up 0.5%, before falling again on Sunday by 2% and on Cyber Monday by 0.5%.

Steve Richardson, UK regional director at FootFall, attributed the decline to retailers spreading the Black Friday event over more days this year as well as shoppers flocking online.

“By offering discounts over a longer period, retailers removed the immediacy on customers to ‘buy now to get a deal’, taking away the necessity to make a purchase on Black Friday itself, which is why we have seen a decrease in footfall,” said Richardson.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “It looks as if Black Friday spending has been more spread out this year and more weighted to online, but every indication is that the combined event will be bigger than last year.”

Amazon UK managing director Christopher North hailed Black Friday as “a day for the record books”.

He said: “For the second year straight, customers in the UK have blown us away with their response to the many great deals on great products that we’ve made available for Black Friday.”

In the US, where the shopping bonanza originated, some media outlets have reported a more muted Black Friday this year, although Macy’s said about 15,000 shoppers queued outside its Manhattan flagship on Thanksgiving evening.