Shoppers will spend 15% more online during the Black Friday period this year than last, according to forecasts by internet trade body IMRG.

IMRG’s Black Friday report found that £7.42bn will be spent online over the peak seven-day Sale period, which starts today and runs until Cyber Monday.

This is 15% more than was spent online in the same period last year.

It predicts that £1.35bn will be spent on the Friday – November 24 – up 9% year-on-year.

Psychological retail phenomenon

IMRG described the Sale event as a “psychological retail phenomenon” because of how it evolves each year.

The most apparent trend it flagged this year is the approach taken by many retailers to keep their Sale events under wraps until they get under way.

IMRG said: “In previous years, in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, many sites advertised prominently, often on their homepages, that they would be participating and encouraged visitors to sign up to a newsletter.

“This year notably fewer have taken that approach, with most opting not to mention Black Friday at all in advance of the anticipated peak week.”

An obvious driver for this shift, the trade body said, is that advertising Black Friday in advance deters shoppers from making purchases earlier in the Christmas shopping season.

Black November

IMRG has tracked 210 UK retail sites daily and, on November 13, 80 of them were actively promoting discounts.

Of that 80, just six were marketed as Black Friday events, three mentioned that their Black Friday event was coming soon and five used the term to promote associated Black Friday campaigns – such as ‘the Black Friday warm-up’.

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy pointed out that some of the early Sales offered significant discounts – 46 retailers were already offering up to 30% off.

“This raises some interesting questions,” he said.

“Will the deals on Black Friday be bigger than that, or are deals that are just as good already available? 

“Will shoppers realise they can get really good deals throughout November anyway and adapt their purchasing behaviour, or will the psychological power of the term ‘Black Friday’ make them delay spend in anticipation that it’s still ‘the’ time to shop?

“And does Black Friday now technically last for the whole month of November, just without using the name necessarily?”