Voice of the Customer

UK shoppers on Black Friday have been buying more items but spending less, credit card data suggests. Barclaycard, which processes half of all UK card payments, said that by 15:00 GMT it had seen 10% more transactions from a year earlier.

However, the value of spending was down 12% on last year. Separate data suggested a continuing trend for Black Friday bargain hunting to be done online rather than on the High Street.

Barclaycard said it had processed 1,087 transactions per second between 13:00 and 14:00 GMT, a record high.

Konrad Kelling, managing director of Barclaycard Payment Solutions, said: “Our data shows that people have been making a higher number of less expensive purchases than at this time last year.

“This suggests that, while Black Friday is clearly encouraging shoppers to buy, consumers are more likely to be purchasing smaller ‘treat’ products, rather than splashing out on high-end items.”

Separate data from retail analysts Springboard indicated that shoppers were continuing to favour buying online rather than heading out to the shops.

Springboard said that by 13:00 GMT, footfall at shops was down 7% from a year ago. High Streets saw a 6.4% decline while shopping centres saw visitor numbers drop 9.1%.

In comparison, the volume of online transactions was up 47%, according to analysis by Loqate/GBG.

Black Friday, a period of heavy discounting which originated as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the US, has divided retailers in the UK. Some see it as risking already-thin profit margins as consumers expect both pre-and post-Christmas deals.

However, this year has seen a return of some retailers who snubbed the promotion 12 months ago.

Retail aggregator, which tracks prices and discounts, said there were 26% more deals on offer this year compared with 2017, and noted that chains such as Homebase, Whistles and FatFace had begun offering Black Friday deals again. Department store chain John Lewis said the most searched-for products so far on Friday were Apple Airpods and the Applewatch Series 3.

Earlier on Friday, the National Cyber Security Centre issued advice to shoppers of the risk of “malicious” online threats and potential for fraud as shoppers are distracted by bargains.

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