Northern Ireland shoppers to splurge £85m in Black Friday sales despite Brexit concerns, says expert
Bargain hunters in Northern Ireland are counting down the days to this year's Black Friday sales, as well as gearing up for a spending spree that could hit a staggering £85m.
Many high street retailers have been struggling in recent times and shoppers will be hoping to bag some brilliant offers as unmissable deals and massive discounts abound.
Black Friday falls on November 23 and will be followed three days later by Cyber Monday, which is generally acknowledged as the busiest day of the year for online shopping.
UK consumers are planning to spend an estimated £4.5bn in this year's sales bonanza - or £165 per household - an increase of 53% on 2017's planned spend, according to new figures from GoCompare Credit Cards.
Leading economist John Simpson said he believes Northern Ireland's contribution to the overall UK Black Friday spend will amount to £85m - which equates to around £150 per household.
Clothes, accessories, toys and small electrical items will top the list of sought-after items, although some retailers such as Carphone Warehouse have released their deals early, while others such as Amazon will follow suit this week.
There's also expected to be a mobile shopping boom on Black Friday itself, with the number of people shopping on their smartphones doubling this year compared to last.
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Mr Simpson said he believed the usual enthusiasm for the annual Black Friday sales might be more subdued this year due to ongoing concerns over Brexit.
"People are going to be feeling very uncertain over the next few weeks and that will make them less inclined to take risks in terms of Christmas spending," he said.
"Northern Ireland is likely to be harder hit compared to anywhere else in the UK so spending could be constrained as people think carefully about where we're likely to be with any loss of jobs or loss of income during the period leading up to Brexit."
Amazon's Black Friday sale starts at midnight tomorrow and runs until November 25, while Argos will also jump the gun offering bargains and tempting deals from tomorrow.
Electrical retailer Currys PCWorld launched its sale two weeks early, while Halfords, the bike and car parts store, also started early and will keep offers running until December 2.
M&S isn't participating in Black Friday this year but will be releasing details on any promotions ahead of Christmas.
DIY chain B&Q will also abandon Black Friday for the first time this year as it released research suggesting almost half of consumers do not plan to shop in the sales event.
Next hasn't confirmed if it is taking part, but if last year is anything to go by, the retailer will take part this year too.
Black Friday originated in the States, where stores mark the start of the festive shopping season after the Thanksgiving public holiday with big price cuts and promotions.
It was introduced to the UK by supermarket chain Asda in 2013 and always falls on the fourth Friday in November.
Black Friday shoppers often prefer to use their phones or laptops, rather than queue up outside shops in the early hours.