How, where and what are shoppers spending on Christmas and Black Friday this year?

By PwC

With one in four consumers intending to spend more this festive season, we’re expecting a total spend of £21 billion on presents and celebrations. Driven by a combination of people looking to get together for an extra special Christmas and a resurgence of interest in Black Friday, this year’s Golden Quarter looks positive for retailers. But there will be challenges, too. We look at what these findings mean for retailers and hospitality operators, and how they can maximise opportunities as we head into a critical time of year.

This year’s Golden Quarter is already set to be unusual, with retail and hospitality businesses needing to face up to some unique challenges.

In positive news, we’ve seen consumer sentiment remain resilient, buoyed by lockdown-forced savings pent-up spending demand, and increased confidence and optimism driven by the success of the vaccine rollout. But all of that is offset by a myriad of challenges: inflation on key items, out of stocks, staff shortages and supply chain concerns, alongside the high-street casualties, store closures we saw earlier in the year and yet-to-recover footfall.

And there remains a great unknown – the possibility of how future COVID-19 mitigation plans might affect the sector should virus rates increase or the NHS come under pressure. Whether that’s working from home guidance, the mooted vaccine passports or other restrictions, they may have an indirect effect on the success of the festive season.

Direct comparisons with last year are difficult. The lockdown in November 2020, coupled with last-minute tier restrictions in many parts of the UK just before Christmas had a significant impact on last year’s Golden Quarter, particularly on the high street. But even with little advance notice, which forced many consumers online, we saw better performance than expected for most retailers, though that did come at the expense of hospitality.

So, we’ve asked consumers about their spending intentions for Christmas – and Black Friday – this year. We look at what the outlook might mean for this year’s Golden Quarter, and how retail and hospitality can make the most of any opportunities that arise.

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