23 Nov 2021

Brits back in black: Black Friday predicted to be biggest ever day of spending as normal service resumes

  • Black Friday spending forecast to be 32% higher than pre-pandemic peak following 2020 dip 
  • Nationwide members predicted to spend more than £251,000 per minute on Black Friday 
  • 5pm to 12am the most popular time to make purchases on Black Friday 
  • Research shows 36% worry about Xmas and 26% expect to be in more debt next year 
  • People willing to pay more for items if they are made and delivered sustainably 

Black Friday is predicted to become the busiest shopping day on record as Nationwide Building Society predicts that consumers will help drive sales beyond pre-pandemic levels.  

The expected growth, based on recent Nationwide debit and credit card spend patterns, follows last year’s year-on-year drop in spending for the first time with the country in the midst of a national lockdown. And in what is widely considered to be a return to normality in terms of shopping habits, purchases this year will likely also be fuelled by fears over empty shelves and supply issues in the run up to Christmas.  

Britain’s biggest building society forecasts spending on Black Friday to be up by nearly a third (32%) on what was seen on the same day in 2019. Nationwide members are expected to make around 10.51 million payments on Black Friday 2021, compared to the 7.94 million transactions in 2019 – an increase of around a third (32%). Last year, 7.73 million transactions were made by members, so the predicted number of payments this year represents an increase of 36 per cent. 

With the average transaction on Black Friday amounting to £34.50, Nationwide predicts total spend to be around £362.6 million – equivalent to more than £251,000 per minute. That is a 19 per cent rise on last year’s spending (£305.6 million). 

Based on the Society’s 2019 debit card data, 3.76 million transactions took place between 9am and 5pm, while a further 2.34 million were done between 5pm and 12am and 1.01 million payments were made overnight and into the early morning (between 12am and 9am). 

Black Friday 2019 (debit cards) 

Time of the day 

Number of transactions 

12am to 9am 

1.01 million 

9am to 5pm 

3.76 million 

5pm to 12am 

2.34 million 

Wasting money: 

According to separate consumer research1 of more than 2,000 people by Nationwide, more than four in ten (43%) people say they spend money each month on things they don’t really need. The average monthly amount spent is £129.92, but that rises to £153.80 for men and decreases to £110.21 for women. Younger people are more likely to do that with nearly two thirds (64%) of those aged 25 to 34 admitting they spend money on things they don’t really need compared to just 41 per cent of those between 45 and 54 and just over a quarter (26%) of those aged 55 and above. 

Regionally, London (54%) and the East Midlands (46%) are where people are likely to spend on items they don’t need, compared to a third (33%) in Wales and 32 per cent in West Midlands. 

Christmas spending: 

The research also shows that, although more than a third (35%) have started their Christmas shopping already, nearly one in ten (9%) will be using Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy gifts. However, close to a fifth (19%) will wait until the start of December to make their festive purchases, while one in ten (10%) say they always leave their shopping until the last minute. 

While nearly half (47%) said they will spend the same amount as normal to celebrate Christmas this year, 29 per cent of people said they will spend less on festivities this year, with more than half (53%) of those saying it’s because they can’t afford to spend as much. More than one in ten (12%) said they will spend more this year, with nearly half of them (48%) saying it’s because there was no family Christmas in 2020 and they really want to celebrate this year. In addition, 38 per cent of those also say that more money will be spent as costs rise. 

More than third of Brits (36%) worry about how much they spend at Christmas, while more than a quarter (26%) say they expect to start 2022 in more debt than they started this year. 

Ethical spending: 

Worries about climate change and the environment are also having an impact on people’s spending habits with nearly a third (32%) of Brits admitting they will not overspend or buy unnecessarily. A further 14 per cent say they will only buy products that are sustainable, while more than one in ten (12%) will check to see the CO2 emissions created by the delivery of their parcels before making their purchases. Close to half (45%) would pay more for an item if they knew it was made and delivered sustainable, with an extra spend of £11.34 per item. 

Mark Nalder, Head of Payments at Nationwide Building Society, said: “With last year’s Black Friday occurring amid a national lockdown, it’s no surprise that we saw our first year-on-year drop in spending on the day. However, with the nation now very much back open, we expect Black Friday to be the busiest shopping day for Nationwide members this year with spending and transaction going beyond pre-pandemic levels. In fact, we predict that the number of transactions made on Black Friday to be a third higher than what was seen two years ago and the highest day of spending on record. 

“However, with the rising cost of living continuing to stretch family household finances, it’s important people try to spend within their means, especially as our research suggests a quarter of people are likely to start 2022 in more debt than they started this year. 

“With people’s plans for last Christmas derailed and people not being able to see others, many of us understandably want to spend a little more to ensure a really good, fun time with family and friends. However, with our research suggesting more than two in five spend money each month on things they don’t need, we would always recommend people properly plan their shopping and seek out offers that provide real value for money.” 

Nationwide’s members can also keep track of their spending with our mobile Banking app and Internet Bank to make sure they are spending within their means. 

Notes to editors

1 Research conducted online by Censuswide with 2,006 UK adults (nat rep) between 20 and 21 October 2021