Store footfall was down 1.6% across UK retail destinations while Barclaycard transaction volumes declined 0.6% year on year. In contrast, total gross sales for major marketplaces via CommerceHub increased by 18% on 2022 

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Temu, Sephora and – surprisingly – Debenhams are emerging among the winners of Black Friday 2023 with major increases in web traffic. 

Their success comes despite a slight decrease in the numbers shopping on the mega Sales Day compared with 2022. 

New data from Barclays, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals transaction volumes on Black Friday 2023 were down 0.6% year on year compared with Black Friday 2022.  

Marc Pettican, head of Barclaycard Payments, believes the decline can be accredited to consumers shopping with retailer discounts earlier in the month.
“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,” he says.

“However, Black Friday was still significantly busier than usual for retailers, with transactions up 2.7% compared to the equivalent Friday in October 2023, demonstrating the continued popularity and importance of this shopping milestone.” 

Other experts, such as William Trump, founder and lead consultant at behavioural science consultancy Unconventional Wisdom, believe the slight decline is due to a lack of trust from consumers, who think they’ll be able to get better deals beyond Black Friday.

“In our own consumer research, two-thirds of customers told us they expect an item to be available at the same price or even cheaper after Black Friday in the run-up to Christmas.

“And eight out of 10 customers think that a Black Friday offer will be cheaper in the Boxing Day/New Year Sales.”

 The latest data from retail analyst MRI Software (formerly Springboard) presents a similar story for UK store footfall on Black Friday 2023, which was marginally below 2022 levels – down by 1.6%. 

However, sales on Black Friday itself surged upwards by 11.8% week on week across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, while across the Black Friday week store sales increased by 7.9% on the week previous and were up 2% on 2022. 

MRI Software believes the marginal decline to be down to the “long-term shift to online shopping”. Indeed, new data from ecommerce software specialist CommerceHub shows that online total gross merchandise value across major retail marketplaces rose by 18% on Black Friday 2023 compared with 2022, from £3.44m to £4.07m.  

The marketplace with the highest gross merchandise sales via CommerceHub on Black Friday 2023 was eBay, followed by Amazon, Asos, Shopify, Back Market, John Lewis, Magento, Debenhams, JD Sports and Secret Sales. 

John Lewis reported that sales increased 31% on Black Friday 2022 with toys among the top-selling products.

Black Friday’s busiest websites 

While most UK retailers are yet to share updates on Black Friday sales performance, fresh insights from data intelligence platform Similarweb reveal the websites that received the most traffic in the UK via desktop and mobile on the day. 

The findings show that the winners, when compared with 2022, were Temu with a marked 74,150% increase in web traffic – largely down to the business being so new in 2022 – Sephora with an increase of 132%, Moonpig with an increase of 48%, and Debenhams with an increase of 46%. 

Top 10 biggest increases in Black Friday traffic

WebsiteCategoryBlack Friday visits 2022 (25 Nov)Black Friday visits 2023 (24 Nov)Year-on-year change Marketplace 1.2K 854.5K 74,150% Beauty  and cosmetics 0.7K 8.4K 1,097% Health and supplements 1.8K 20.2K 1,050% Travel 1.5K 6.8K 352% Fashion and apparel 3.5K 15.0K 334% Fashion and apparel 3.6K 14.6K 306% Health and supplements 3.7K 14.5K 297% Health and supplements 1.5K 5.8K 292% Home and garden 1.7K 6.4K 275% Travel 1.2K 4.3K 268%

Significantly, despite CommerceHub data showing an increase in transactions via online marketplaces, Similarweb saw a 12% decrease in web traffic in the UK overall. 

Fast fashion and grocery sales were notably of less interest to consumers when browsing. Similarweb found that online traffic for PrettyLittleThing was down by 45% on 2022, Asos was down 43% and Boohoo was down 30%.

Meanwhile, web traffic for Waitrose declined 31% while online traffic for Tesco was down 20% this Black Friday. 

Top 10 biggest decreases in Black Friday traffic

WebsiteCategoryBlack Friday visits 2022 (25 Nov)Black Friday visits 2023 (24 Nov)Year-on-year change Fashion and apparel 185.4K 0.9K -99% Fashion and apparel 195.5K 1.6K -99% Marketplace/big box 87.8K 5.5K -94% Coupons 288.5K 25.2K -91% Coupons 31.9K 3.6K -89% Fashion and apparel 22.5K 3.2K -86% Health and supplements 4.7K 0.8K -82% Health and supplements 3.4K 0.7K -80% Beauty and cosmetics 27.9K 5.7K -80% Beauty and cosmetics 1.1K 0.2K -79%

The intelligence platform noted that consumers spent more time on travel and beauty sites than on those retailing big-ticket items such as home furnishings or luxury items. 

High streets lead the charge 

When it came to bricks-and-mortar sales on Black Friday, high streets dominated. They saw a 10% rise in footfall on Black Friday 2023, followed by shopping centres (7.7%) and retail parks (3.5%), according to MRI Software. 

This performance, compared with 2022, is actually much stronger as footfall rose week on week by only 3.2% for the same week last year. 

Dee Corsi, chief executive of New West End Company, believes sales performance to be indicative of a strong golden quarter for London’s retailers.

“The festive season is well and truly under way in the West End, with the Black Friday weekend driving the period’s first significant peak in footfall,” she says.

“The buzz of Black Friday weekend sets a positive tone for the rest of the festive trading period – welcome news for businesses across the West End, for whom the next few weeks are absolutely critical.” 

And the same optimism extends outside London. Outdoor clothing retailer Mountain Warehouse, which has just enjoyed its “highest” revenue in the company’s 26-year history, operates 340 stores across the UK. According to founder Mark Neale, the retailer has had its “busiest Black Friday weekend ever”.

Speaking on November 27, Neale said the retailer had generated sales of more than £10m between November 24 and 26, and predicted that more than a million people had visited Mountain Warehouse’s stores.