Bleak Friday: Cost of living crisis could turn annual sales bonanza into a damp squib as people try to spend less on Christmas, analysts say

  • Black Friday may be hit by cost of living crisis and delivery problems from strikes
  • As costs of energy and food rise families are cutting back in Christmas spending
  • Shoppers may spend less online because Royal Mail strikes impacting deliveries

Retailers are facing a Bleak Friday with warnings the sales event will be hit by the cost of living crisis and delivery issues linked to strikes.

The rising cost of essentials such as energy and food means families are tightening their belts and cutting back on Christmas spending – including the Black Friday sales.

But industry analysts at Hargreaves Lansdown predict spending across the weekend through to Cyber Monday will still be up by around 0.8 per cent on last year. They say it is likely to amount to £8.7billion because of inflation, despite a big fall in the number of purchases.

Senior investment and markets analyst Susannah Streeter said: ‘Retailers are desperate for some spending cheer but the worry is that it could turn out to be more of a Bleak Friday. With the promotional event taking place amid the cost of living storm, could consumers stay more cautious about splashing the cash?’

Retailers are facing a Bleak Friday with warnings the sales event will be hit by the cost of living crisis and delivery issues linked to strikes

A survey by market research agency Opinium found more than three quarters plan to buy gifts in the sales this year, and 13 per cent will do so for the first time. But some of the lustre around the Black Friday event has been killed by concerns that many of the claimed deals are duds.

Research published this week by consumer watchdog Which? suggested there are very few deals specific to Black Friday. Often products are maintained at the discount price through to Christmas and the January sales.

Shoppers may also be put off spending online in the Black Friday sales because Royal Mail deliveries are being hit by strikes held by the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Members are today on the second day of a 48-hour walkout amid a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Asked if there will be further strikes ahead of Christmas, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘If we don’t fight, we can be absolutely certain our members’ jobs are going to be destroyed and the service is going to be destroyed. We need to pile the pressure on.’

Shoppers may also be put off spending online in the Black Friday sales because Royal Mail deliveries are being hit by strikes held by the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Pictured: Striking Royal Mail workers gather on a picket line outside Camden Town delivery office on Thursday

Courier experts ParcelHero predict families will be spending £4billion less on food, gifts and entertaining than they did last year. But its head of consumer research, David Jinks, added: ‘That doesn’t mean we will all be reduced to Christmas stockings full of nuts, knitted socks and an orange.

‘There are ways to save enough money to have a decent Christmas. Leaving enough time to buy online using free or low-cost delivery options can save pounds, rather than opting for expensive next-day deliveries.’

There is also evidence that Britons are increasingly shopping for second hand products rather than buying new.

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