US to ramp up spending, Europe holds back amid cost-of-living crisis

Many shoppers say they plan to spend less this Black Friday as the cost of living increases.

Richard Baker | In images | Getty Images

Black Friday may offer a chance to score a bargain ahead of the holiday season, but many shoppers expect retailers to cut prices by a larger margin this year as they tighten their belts amid a worsening crisis in the cost of goods. livelihood.

Buyers in Europe plan to spend nearly a fifth less during this year’s annual rebate period as inflationary pressure weighs on consumer confidence, according to research from Boston Consulting Group this month.

Consumers in the UK will cut by the largest margin in the region, spending 18% less, while consumers in France and Germany both plan to cut spending by 15% and Spain by 13%.

US consumers were the only ones in the survey among nine countries, including Australia, to say they expect to spend more this year, increasing their spending by 6%.

Retailers under pressure

The findings come as the global economic outlook deteriorates, particularly in Europe, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine has depressed growth and sent energy prices skyrocketing.

The UK is already in recession, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility confirmed last week.

That adds pressure to retailers, who are already struggling to recover from a Covid-19 slowdown and attract increasingly price-conscious consumers. Meanwhile, many companies, trying to correct deficiencies and supply problems from last year, have built up huge inventories that they now have to put under pressure.

What we’ve seen is the Black Friday trend spread.

Kristy Morris

general manager of commercial solutions, Barclays Payments

“Black Friday is a pivotal time in the retail calendar for brick-and-mortar and online retailers still recovering from the Covid pandemic and now facing consumers in many markets reducing their spending plans for many non-essential items,” said Jessica Distler, general manager. director of BCG and partner, the report said.

That could lead retailers to extend their discounts throughout the month, increasing buying opportunities for consumers with money to spend.

Increasing risk of shopping scams

UK transactions rose 3.8% a year in the week leading up to Black Friday, according to new data from Barclays Payments, one of the country’s largest payment processors.

Kristy Morris, general manager of commercial solutions at Barclays Payments, told CNBC on Thursday that this could mean customers are more likely to spread their purchases over the Christmas period.

“What we’ve seen is the spread of the Black Friday trend. We’ve seen it spread throughout the week and even further into the month,” said Morris.

“Part of it has to do with potentially bringing forward some of that Christmas shopping and consumers thinking about being smarter about how they might spend for Christmas,” she added.

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Still, experts have urged shoppers to exercise caution when taking advantage of discounts this holiday season.

John Davis, director for the UK and Ireland at cybersecurity organization Sans Institute, said online hackers are known to “turn up the heat” during discount periods, especially when customers are under pressure to make a deal.

Indeed, according to research from Barclays, shopping scams are up 34% after last year’s Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday weekend.

“Cybercriminals are catching up with attacks that are more common, more sophisticated and harder to detect than ever before,” he said.

Davis urged consumers to be extra vigilant when shopping online and not to make hasty or panicked decisions out of “fear of missing out.”

“Opportunistic hackers will try to create a false sense of urgency, so it’s important to err on the side of caution by staying aware of scams, trusting our gut feeling and building safety into all of our online behavior,” he added.

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