Black Friday shoppers to blow £2bn more online this year amid site crash fears

Black Friday shoppers are set to splurge a whopping £2billion more online than last year amid fears sites could crash.

With scores of High Streets closed, Brits are set to spend £2million-a-minute online creating unprecedented cyber traffic which will likely see shop websites overloaded.

Experts predict web shopping will skyrocket by 70 per cent on last year, with electronics and clothing sites to be most popular – and therefore most vulnerable to crashing.

2019’s Black Friday saw Currys PC World’s site and NatWest’s site and app both crash, while the likes of Debenhams and John Lewis have gone down previously.

Last week’s much-anticipated PlayStation5 launch led to Currys implementing an online queue system, while the likes of Game and Tesco sites both crashed due to demand.

A study with the Centre for Retail Research predicts that shoppers are expected to spend £7.5bn in three days, a 12% drop on 2019, largely down to lockdown store closures.

The diverging fortunes of real and virtual stores is stark in the forecasts, which predict online sales will be nearly £2bn higher at £5.8bn while stores will lose out on £3bn of business, to take just £1.7bn.

CRR director Professor Joshua Bamfield warned “there’s no way websites will be able to cope”.

Despite retailers spending millions improving there websites in preparation, he said the demand will simply be far too high.

Meanwhile, Ross Davies, director of e-commerce consultants Strafe Creative, said crashed websites on Black Friday will not only damage sales but also a company’s reputation.

Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland retail partner said the pandemic has skewed shoppers’ focus to early festive purchasing and “diminished” the significance for retailers who can’t afford to make major discounts due to losses in recent months.

“Retailers need to look beyond festive deals in order to aim for recovery and a positive start to 2021.

“What would have been a 10-year transition from physical to online sales has happened in less than a year, and retailers need to understand and adapt to likely permanent shifts in consumer behaviour.”

Research by Which?, meanwhile, has revealed 85 per cent of products promoted as Black Friday deals last year had been on sale at the same price or cheaper in the weeks before.

And Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, reader in consumer psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, has explained why it is very easy to get carried away when finding what we think are reduced prices.

“The part of our brain that controls pleasure responds quickly to the sight of a ‘bargain’, helping us experience a rush of excitement,” she said.

“Fearful of missing out on what we think is a good offer, this can lead us to make rash decisions.

“Therefore it’s really important that consumers do their homework before making purchases.

“Make sure you know what an item normally costs so it is clear whether the reduction really is a bargain.

“Having as much information as possible can help your brain ‘put the brakes on’, allowing you to engage in more sensible decision-making.”