Black Friday sales confounded expectations as the post-payday discount bonanza delivered sales and footfall uplifts, but festive spend is still forecast to be in decline.

Black Friday sales confounded expectations as the post-payday discount bonanza delivered sales and footfall uplifts.


Online sales during Black Friday registered “outstanding” growth, as revenues rose during the day 16.5% year on year by value terms. Volume of transactions was up 7.2%, according to Barclaycard data.

Barclaycard, which processes approximately a third of UK payments, also recorded a 6.9% uplift in sales during Cyber Monday in transaction volume terms, while sales volume for the week to December 2 was up 7.1% year on year.

IMRG strategy and insights director Andy Mulcahy said that in the week leading up to Black Friday, sales were “far ahead” of the 2% to 3% sales growth forecast by the online retail association earlier this month.

Barclaycard chief executive Rob Cameron said: “These figures show that consumers have not only been buying more, but also spending more than last year – which will no doubt come as welcome news to the retail sector as the countdown to Christmas gets underway.”

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, on an adjusted basis to reflect the later date of Black Friday this year, sales were up 0.9% on a total basis and up 0.4% like for like in November. The total sales rise was above both the three-month and 12-month averages of 0% and 0.2% respectively.

Springboard recorded a 3.3% uplift in footfall overall, rising across all retail destinations, but particularly bolstered by a 6.5% spike in shopping centre visitor numbers, followed by 2.4% and 1.9% uplifts across high streets and retail parks respectively.

Overall footfall growth on Black Friday was far ahead of the 4.5% decline year on year previously forecast by Springboard.

High street footfall was strong over the course of Black Friday and the weekend – up 6%, 6.8% and 2.9% on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively, according to ShopperTrak.

Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said: “This positive result may well seal the deal for retailers in terms of their commitment to Black Friday moving forward, as they will have claimed shoppers early on in the Christmas trading period giving them the opportunity to steal a march on their rivals.”

While the strong uplift in footfall and sales will have been a welcome reprieve for many retailers, it could ultimately be a double-edged sword for the industry in the run-up to Christmas. It remains to be seen whether strong Black Friday sales growth could spell a comparative dry spell in December trading.

Christmas caution

PwC, which forecast an 11% rise in spending during the Black Friday period, predicts that Christmas spend is likely to fall to an average of £408 per shopper (from £421 in 2018) and the majority of people (53%) will be more cautious with their spending this year.

However, PwC retail director Kien Tan said that with two full weekends of trading after next week’s general election and before Christmas, retailers should resist discounting.

“It will be a late Christmas, so retailers will need to hold their nerve and resist discounting just because they have a lot of stock. Spend will come but it will likely be in the last week before Christmas,” he said.

Springboard believes the strong Black Friday will have an impact on the Christmas trading period, “with a lull in footfall over the next couple of weeks as shoppers delay further significant purchases until immediately before Christmas in an effort to make the most of last-minute discounting”.

The footfall monitor expects that between November 24 and December 28, footfall will decline 1.5% year on year compared the same five-week period the previous year.

That is a lower rate of decline than the 2.6% fall in footfall recorded in 2018 but would still mark the eighth consecutive year of falling shopper numbers in the run-up to Christmas.

Springboard expects Saturday December 21 to be the busiest day of trading when footfall growth is forecast to be higher than the 3.3% registered over the course of Black Friday.