Black Friday retail record expected as shoppers set to spend £2.6bn
Britons are expected to set another retail record on this year's Black Friday in defiance of tightened household budgets as the crucial Christmas period gets under way.
Shoppers will spend £2.6 billion - an 8% increase on the £2.4 billion spent last year - or £1.8 million per minute, snapping up deals online and in stores on November 24, according to predictions by VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).
Online spending alone is expected to reach £1.15 billion, up 15% on 2016, when Argos recorded its biggest-ever day of sales and John Lewis had its biggest week for sales in its 153-year history.
Many major retailers including Amazon, Argos, Currys and AO.com, have already started their Black Friday events.
The event comes as inflation data and wage growth figures confirm the squeeze on household incomes, although consumers have proved resilient and retail sales have held up better than many expected.
The peak Christmas retail period, which kicks off with Black Friday, will be crucial for the high street.
However consumers are increasingly seeing Black Friday as an online savings event and high street figures are expected to be up 4% on last year as 9.5 million shoppers prepare to spend £1.45 billion, the CRR said.
Eleanor Parr, retail analyst at GlobalData, said electrical sales were expected to continue to dominate Black Friday promotions, although year-on-year growth is forecast to slow to 3% due to inflation in the market discouraging spending.
She said: "Increased cost prices will mean retailers are unable to offer the level of discounts advertised in 2016, meaning demand may waver as consumers feel less inclined to make bargain purchases on impulse."
Consumer group Which? warned shoppers against assuming that Black Friday prices are automatically the biggest discount, noting that it had "often seen past discounts that were not quite as good as retailers made them sound".
It urges Black Friday shoppers to start looking at prices now to familiarise themselves with genuine bargains, be alert to delivery costs in advance and check returns policies before buying.
Which? magazine editor-in-chief Richard Headland said: "During big shopping events like Black Friday it can be easy to get overwhelmed by discounts, deals and deductions.
"To get the best out of Black Friday, shoppers should do their research, form a plan and stick to it."