Black Friday 2021 by the Numbers: Shopping Behaviours in the UK

Published Dec 16, 2021

Simon Parnell, UK & NL Sales Director - CPG at Toluna

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been closely tracking patterns in consumer sentiment and behaviour. What we’ve learned is to expect the unexpected, and that no assumptions about future trends are safe. From personal finance habits to the companies consumers are supporting, and why behaviours continue to evolve at record speed.

Take Black Friday 2021, for example. In survey of 500 UK consumers fielded on 25 November, only 22% of respondents reported actually visiting stores in person on Black Friday. Despite the lack of in-store visits, 55% reported spending more money on Black Friday than they did last year. This shows a lingering hesitation around in-person shopping, as well as continued appreciation for the convenience of online shopping. It also signals an increasing comfort level around consumer spending.

What else did we learn from our study of one of the year’s biggest shopping days? Read along for our key findings.

Fifty-six percent of consumers made purchases, most of which were online.

More than half of respondents reported making Black Friday purchases in 2021, which is a great sign for an economy on the mend. As mentioned, though, less than a quarter of UK shoppers visited stores and shopping centers in person; the majority of consumers opted for online browsing and purchasing, with items delivered right to their homes.

Amazon was far and away the top retailer this year, with 64% of consumers shopping there. Other popular online retailers included Argos, at 28%, and eBay, at 19%.

These insights offer evidence of the ongoing growth and popularity of e-commerce—both in the UK and worldwide. While brick-and-mortar destinations are back and open for business, consumer trends show no sign of shifting back toward traditional, in-store shopping in the near future.

More than half of consumers spent more than they did last year.

In good news for retailers across the board, an impressive 55% of consumers reported spending more this Black Friday than they did last year, with 22% saying they spent far more than they did in 2020.

Seventy-one percent of UK shoppers felt that they had bought a premium product, with the most popular purchases including:

Clothing (42%)

Computer and gaming equipment (26%)

Perfumes and fragrances (25%)

Food, cosmetics, home appliances, and TV and audio equipment were also listed among the types of Black Friday purchases that consumers were making. These purchases can be attributed to a willingness to spend rather than the prices and discounts available, which most consumers said were the same as or only slightly better than last year.

Consumers are treating themselves and others this year.

In more promising news, consumer behaviour shows a readiness to start spending on ourselves again. There has been a heavy focus on saving for a rainy day throughout the pandemic, but Black Friday statistics show an increasing comfort level with spending these days:

69% said they bought a gift for themselves, representing a 13% increase from last year

60% bought gifts for family members

23% bought gifts for partners

20% bought for friends

As these insights show, UK consumers might not have been ready to brave the shops on Black Friday, but they certainly took advantage of the deals available by spending more money than last year. With events and celebrations back on and businesses open and operating as normal, it’s clear that a key Black Friday aim for consumers was to seek bargains on new clothes and treat themselves, their families, and friends to some well-deserved gifts.

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