Consumer spending falls to 18-month low ahead of Black Friday, before shoppers rush online to take advantage of discounts, Barclaycard finds

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Consumers chose to shop online rather than brave the crowds on Black Friday, according to data from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all UK card transactions. Online spending rocketed compared to the same time last year, seeing an uplift of 15.1%.

The average transaction value (ATV) of online purchases also rose 6.6%, suggesting shoppers were buying higher priced items online.

In store spending didn’t fare so well however, seeing a decline of 6.7% overall and a drop in ATV growth of 7.8%, suggesting consumers were buying lower priced items in store.

The clear winners from Black Friday spending were men’s clothing (up 33.8%, whilst women’s clothing rose by a more modest 11.7%), big ticket items in furniture stores (17.9%), discount stores (12.7 %) and electronics (9.9%).

The share of spending carried out online on Black Friday rosefrom 26.3% in 2014 to 30.5% this year.

In anticipation of Black Friday discounts, consumer spending growth fell to its lowest level in 18 months in the three weeks leading up to Black Friday – from 4.1% in October to just 2.2%.

The number of purchases made in the first three weeks of November slowed in all categories compared with the previous month, with the exception of cinema/theatre transactions.The sharpest slowdowns were in those retail categories widely expected to see major Black Friday discounts, including clothing, DIY, electronics and furniture.

The number of clothing purchases in the first part of November grew by just 0.2%, down from 3.6% growth in October and its weakest growth in two years; DIY transactions more than halved from 3.8% to 1.5%, the lowest increase since March; and electronics stores saw growth in the number of purchases fall from 2.6% growth to 1.4% – the lowest in two years.

Consequently, total in-store spending fell into negative territory for the first time in two years,with the amount spent on the high street in November shrinking 1.1% year-on-year compared to an increase of 1% in October.

Online spending grew 14.65 (up on 10.2% last November and the 13.8% average so far this year) with Black Friday deals starting earlier this year – Amazon, Argos and Carphone Warehouse were among the retailers starting Black Friday discounts up to a week before 27 November.

Chris Wood, chief operating officer at Barclaycard, said: “Yet again, Black Friday proved a big draw for consumers this year.  Consumers seem to have geared up for the main event this time round, holding back on buying anything other than the bare essentials in the weeks leading up to it. Spending in the three weeks prior to Black Friday fell to its lowest level in 18 months and was just half that of last November.

“Online spending on Black Friday was up 15% year-on-year, with consumers deciding to avoid last year’s in-store stampedes and shop from the comfort of the sofa. As a result the share of spending carried out online jumped from a quarter to just under a third. With consumers now holding back their Christmas shopping until the deals start to emerge, the Black Friday weekend is now firmly established as the biggest shopping event of the year.”