Retailers looking for sales boost

Stores braced for record day amid Black Friday bargains

Black Friday - BBC videoBritain’s shoppers are expected to spend more than £1 billion today as Black Friday takes a grip of the nation’s Christmas bargain hunters.

Experts believe this year will surpass last year’s record £810m spend because of the pick up in the economy, although new figures today suggest consumer morale has slipped to its lowest level in six months.

However, the data from market research firm GfK indicates that shoppers retain an appetite for major purchases and it will televisions, cameras and mobile devices that top most people’s lists today

Rob Fenton UK managing director of fifty-five, a business data agency said: “Since its introduction into the UK in 2010, Black Friday has exploded in popularity year after year.

“This year sales will most certainly surpass last year’s record spend of £810m and will easily top £1bn.

“Without doubt today will become the biggest online retail event in UK history, with many retail records being broken including the biggest smartphone shopping day ever.”

He said the winners of Black Friday will be the multi-channel retailers.

Some big retailers, such as Primark, have shunned the day as they avoid discounting, although Asda, which said it was abandoning Black Friday because of ugly scenes at shops last year, is still advertising big cuts in prices.

Research suggests £1.09bn will be spent, equating to £21,990 per second.

In a survey published today the CBI said business volumes in the services sector – which makes up more than three-quarters of Britain’s private sector economy – eased in the three months to November.

Together with the GfK research, this suggests a more sluggish level of economic growth. Hotels, bars and restaurants saw steady and strong growth, but the pace of expansion among business and professional services companies slipped to its lowest level for two years.

Third quarter GDP figures show the economy grew 0.5% in the third quarter, slowing from 0.7% in the second quarter.

John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist, said: “Today’s figures show no change in the big picture of a steady UK economic recovery led by a broad-based expansion in private sector services, but held back by weakness in both manufacturing and construction in the third quarter.

“The expenditure breakdown shows continued solid growth in consumer spending and a further strong rise in business investment in the third quarter. The trade balance has been very erratic this year, with a sharp improvement in the second quarter due to falling imports being entirely reversed in the third quarter as imports bounced back – and there have also been offsetting swings in stockbuilding.

“We expect UK growth to remain one of the strongest in the G7 at around 2.4% in both 2015 and 2016.”


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