Black Friday looms for Northern Ireland - but only if the price is right

Consumers are expected to set another retail record on this year's Black Friday in defiance of tightened household budgets

NORTHERN Ireland shoppers are the canniest in the UK when it comes to planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping deals - but only if the price if right, according to research from PwC.

A survey of UK adults found that 41 per cent of Northern Ireland shoppers would be interested in purchasing on over those two key retail days, but only if they got a good deal.

That compares with 32 per cent nationwide, although 30 per cent of local shoppers said they either plan to avoided the events completely or just aren't interested.

According to PwC, this year's retail activities will be most popular with the younger generation of shoppers. Over two-thirds (70 per cent) of shoppers under 25 say they are interested in participating in the forthcoming weekend's sales.

Across the UK, Londoners intend to spend the most - an average of almost £300 - while close to half of shoppers in Northern Ireland (44 per cent), will spend between £101 and £250, although 12 per cent of local bargain hunters say they will spend up to £500.

Around 60 per cent of people in Northern Ireland who plan to buy anything say they will shop primarily for themselves, although 66 per cent say that are also planning to purchase something for family members. UK-wide, respondents said they would shop primarily for the family.

Northern Ireland people are the UK's top-shoppers for technology and electricals, with 67 per cent of local shoppers who intend to part with their money over the Black Friday weekend saying they'll spend most on tech.

That's more than the other regions like the West Midlands (38 per cent), and even London (44 per cent), with half of shoppers (50 per cent) across the UK looking for bargains in technology and electrical.

Paul Terrington, PwC regional chairman in Northern Ireland and head of UK regions said: “Technology and electrical items are in demand this Black Friday weekend and retailers who specialise in these areas are already promoting their Black Friday promotions. However, the trend to online shopping will remain a challenge for conventional bricks- and-mortar retailers.

“UK shoppers are increasingly willing to part with their money on Black Friday and we expect the fastest spending growth to come from younger shoppers, who are more likely to purchase on impulse. If retailers do their research and promote the right products at the right prices, they should once again see strong sales.”

Key survey findings of the survey include:

• 82 per cent of Black Friday spending will be done online or by mobile, with only 18 per cent of purchases being made in store.

• Shoppers said Black Friday is more about buying things for family (70 per cent) than presents for themselves (63 per cent)

• Only 20 per cent of overall UK Black Friday spending is expected to be on Christmas presents, so retailers still have all to play for in December.

• Northern Ireland shoppers are top UK toy buyers – 29 per cent plan to buy toys compared to 19 per cent across the UK.

PwC says that many Black Friday sales have already begun and will extend past the weekend, turning into 'Black Fortnight' in some sectors. While perhaps due in part to subdued October sales, it also reflects more planned promotions over this period.

However, the latest edition of the consumer magazine Which, warns that not all Black Friday deals are what they appear. Which tracked the prices of 35 of last year's tech, home and personal care products over a year and found that 60 per cent of the products were at the same price or cheaper at other times in the year.

Nonetheless, observers still expect another year of Black Friday sales growth in the UK. However, it does fall comparatively early this year, before pay day for many consumers, which may present a cash flow issue for some shoppers and could result in slightly more muted growth.

Terrington added: “The first few weeks of Christmas shopping in December will still be vital for retailers who will need to carefully manage their stock, IT systems and delivery infrastructure to deal with both shopping periods.

“Black Friday does have the potential to cannibalise the January sales, a shopping period more traditionally used by consumers to buy items for themselves - something shoppers may now be bringing forward to November.”

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