Black Friday Live Updates: Holiday shoppers face highest inflation in decades

credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

LONDON – There may not be a Thanksgiving holiday or a long holiday weekend on this side of the Atlantic, but that’s not stopping Europeans from flocking to high streets and online sales in search of bargains.

Black Friday started gaining popularity in Europe years ago with one-day sales focused on electronics and home appliances. These days, companies consider it one of the biggest days in the retail calendar, with discounts everywhere, on clothes, food, theater tickets, holiday travel packages and the like. Sales in the UK often continue throughout the month of November as people react to the discounts by bringing their holiday shopping forward.

Still, this holiday season for European businesses – normally a huge part of annual revenues – may be less favorable than usual. With energy costs, mortgage payments and retail prices rising, consumers have less money to spend on holiday gifts. Many imported goods have become more expensive due to the weaker pound and euro against the dollar.

This pressure may cause shoppers to focus their purchases on Friday. Jessica Distler, partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group in Berlin and author of recent Black Friday reportsaid economic concerns are likely to prompt European consumers to shop more on Black Friday to get the best deals.

“There’s more focus on promotional offers because you have that anxiety and you have less budget to spend,” she said.

European consumers said their spending will decrease this year compared to last, according to Boston Consulting Group’s survey of more than 7,000 users in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Great Britain. The survey, which also surveyed more than 2,000 consumers in Australia and the United States, found that only US consumers said they planned to increase their spending from last year.

On average, consumers in Britain say they expect to spend 18 percent less on holiday shopping than last year as they cut back on non-essential items due to price increases, the survey found.

Although its popularity has grown, Black Friday shopping in Europe has lacked the same frenetic energy as in the United States, said Tom Holder, a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, the trade association of British retailers.

“There’s never been this American style, we hold the doors and everybody comes in,” Mr Holder said. “A few stores might have been able to get that, but it wasn’t this, ‘Let’s go crazy’ type of thing.”

In Great Britain, where the annual rate of inflation exceeded 11 percent in October, there are already signs that this holiday season could be disappointing for retailers. Retail sales volumes (excluding motor fuels) fell 6.7 percent last month compared to October last year, according to report released last week from the UK Office for National Statistics.

Black Friday comes as businesses in Europe are also suffering from staff shortages and have had to raise wages to attract staff. Three quarters of UK companies have been hit by labor shortages in the past year, according to a survey of 325 businesses published last month by the Confederation of British Industry, a trade association. Almost half of affected companies are unable to meet customer demands, the study found.

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