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Online retailers dominate November and Black Friday

By Kevin Jenkins, Managing Director UK & Ireland • Visa

December 09, 2016

The UK Christmas shopping season is off to a good start for consumers and retailers alike. According to our UK Consumer Index, overall spending increased by 3.2% year-on-year in November, marking the strongest growth rate seen since January 2015 as consumers made the most of the promotions around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Despite reports predicting Black Friday decline, data points to an overall growth with more than £2 billion spent on Visa cards on what is now an iconic annual event. The shopping season seems to have started earlier this year too, as we saw solid spending growth rates in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

But as Black Friday shifted further online this year, an interesting contrast has emerged: Online spending grew by the highest rate of growth since we first published the Index in 2009, while high street spend fell - A trend that’s been reflected across the Irish Sea.

One possible driver for this leap in online spending was identified by some recent research we conducted: Across Europe, 54% of consumers are regularly using a mobile device to shop and make payments, up from just 18% last year. We predict by 2020, 50% of all Visa transactions will be made using tablets or phones.

So it seems consumers really are thinking multi-channel, browsing on one platform but often buying elsewhere, and our research confirmed the rise of ‘showrooming’ and ‘web-rooming’ (viewing an item in-store before purchasing online or on mobile, and vice versa). It would certainly appear that retailers offering a seamless experience between store and online, bridging the gap between physical and virtual, will enjoy a stronger Christmas.

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