Cash-strapped shoppers have turned to credit cards to pay for Black Friday deals as they battle the cost of living crisis.
Banks and major retailers said shoppers were spending more on credit than usual. Barclays said it had seen a 4.9pc increase in credit card transactions compared to Black Friday 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
Nationwide building society said a third of purchases this year were made using a credit card or a “buy now, pay later” company. Last year this figure was 8pc, although it did not track usage of buy now, pay later at the time.
Overall transaction levels were up 8pc compared to last year, Nationwide said, as it warned shoppers against taking on too much debt. Household finances are expected to be squeezed this winter as rising costs start to bite.
Barclays reported a record number of credit transactions per second between 12pm and 1pm, as shoppers searched for bargains in their lunch breaks.
Klarna, the buy now, pay later firm, said purchases had soared by 30pc this week as many retailers started their Black Friday promotions early. Currys said one in six of its customers had used its in-house credit scheme – an increase of a third since 2021.
Ed Connolly, of Currys, said: “Customers are looking to save money. They are more concerned about their finances and they’re looking for better ways of paying and better ways of spending their money too.”
Mark Nalder, of Nationwide, said: “Pressure on household budgets means that more will likely put their purchases on credit.
“Although credit cards can help spread the cost and offer additional protection, we would always urge people to be careful not to amass debt that they might struggle to repay in the new year.”
Although consumer spending increased, there were few signs of a revival for bricks-and-mortar retail, with footfall well down on pre-pandemic levels, according to data company Springboard.
High streets and shopping centres proved the worst affected, with both having lost around a quarter of their customers since 2019. Springboard’s Diane Wehrle said that trading had been challenging for many high street retailers.