Black Friday 2015: Britons expected to spend £3.49bn over four days
Britons are expected to spend £3.49 billion on bargains over the four days starting with "Black Friday", with online sales alone predicted to be up 16% on last year.
Some 14.7 million shoppers will take part in the sales bonanza from this Friday, culminating with "Cyber Monday" when most workers will be in possession of their last pay check of the year, according to figures from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and VoucherCodes.co.uk.
Those in the UK are expected to spend 21%, or £450 million, more over the four days than France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium combined.
And despite last year's crowds and incidents of havoc in stores, the event is expected to boost footfall on the high street, with 13.9 million people expected to do at least some of their shopping in bricks and mortar locations.
However most cash - £2.22 billion - will be spent online, up 16% on last year's £1.91 billion, the CRR predicts.
Visa Europe has predicted Black Friday shoppers will put a total of £1.9 billion on its cards alone.
It estimates shoppers will put £721 million spent on online purchases on its cards, up 17% on last year and a 61% increase on 2013, peaking in the "golden hour" between 6pm and 7pm when commuters buy via their phones and tablets.
Another £1.19 billion will be spent on its cards in fast-to-face transactions - up only 4% on last year but a 20% on 2013 - peaking in the lunchtime hour between 1pm and 2pm.
VoucherCodes said its traffic spiked at 8.36am on Black Friday last year, compared with 9.52am in 2013, suggesting shoppers are starting ever earlier.
A YouGov poll for VoucherCodes suggests that shoppers who missed out on savings last year could be behind the predicted increase in sales, with around half of those aware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year reporting that they did not participate last year.
The survey found almost a quarter (23%) of those planning to shop on Black Friday will have a list of items they hope to find on offer, while 9% are planning to fill their online basket ahead of time in the hope they go down in price.
Of those planning to shop on Cyber Monday, 15% are planning to put aside money to spend specifically on this date.
VoucherCodes managing director Claire Davenport said: "As the dates grow in popularity, the weekend is proving to be a targeted occasion where consumers can purchase selected and pre-planned goods at a better value to help make the financial load of Christmas a little easier."
Kevin Jenkins, Visa Europe managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "This is shaping up to be a huge weekend, online and in-store, for retailers. We're looking at a combined £1.9 billion being spent on Black Friday as retailers discount across both mediums.
"It will be a tale of two different golden hours on the day. On the high street, we'll see a huge lunchtime rush. Online, the commuter hour will see the highest levels of buying, confirming the growing number of people who think mobile first for shopping.
"Black Friday's growth is really coming online in particular - that's where this year's surge is going to come from. It's also firmly become the bigger brother to the more traditional Cyber Monday."