PwC release annual retail predictions

  • PwC have released their annual retail predictions, with the outlook for Northern Ireland’s high street better than the rest of the UK.

    The predictions also show a fifth of festive shoppers in Northern Ireland plan to spend more on presents and celebrations this year than last.

    One in 4 consumers in the UK who were surveyed by the professional services firm revealed that they intend on increasing their spending this year, with an average £428 spend per person which is up from £384 in 2020. The hike is consistent across all age groups and regions.

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    Given the disruptions last year, the increased spend is driven in part by more people planning to spend Christmas with extended family, leading to more gifting opportunities, more celebratory food and drink and more Christmas socialising. Meanwhile, recent price inflation means people expect they will need to spend more. 

    Continuing with the trend seen in recent years, online retailers are set to benefit most from pre-Christmas spending. During the pandemic, retailers in Northern Ireland invested significantly in their online offerings and, according to the NI Retail Consortium, sales increased by 40%. While online shopping in Northern Ireland is the lowest of all regions, it still amounts to almost 60% of pre-Christmas purchases. 

    The annual retail events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain a draw for shoppers. 4 out of ten consumers in Northern Ireland are definitely going to buy in this year’s pre-Christmas sales. It’s thought that they’ll continue to be predominantly online phenomenons in the UK, particularly this year with the exit of famous high street brands from high street stores and being bought by online players. 

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    The impact of Northern Ireland’s high street voucher scheme may account for the relative strength of high street spending with more people here (41%) intending to go directly to stores in the build-up to Christmas than elsewhere in the UK, with London being the lowest at 30%. At the beginning of November, it’s estimated over £26.5m had already been injected into the local economy.

    Spending increases are greatest in the 18 - 24 age group, up 40% on last year. This group intends to spend £356 per person, up from £254. The survey also found that men are catching up with women when it comes to present budgeting - with a reported increase of 15%, up to £428, only a fraction behind what women plan to spend (£429).

    Commenting on the findings, David Armstrong, PwC NI Partner, commented: “With the impact of the high street voucher, we’ve seen a boost to the fortunes of brick and mortar retailers but the future on the ground will look very different. The Executive’s High Street Task Force is collecting evidence to drive change and it’s positive to see plans for the evolution of Castle Court in Belfast for example, after the loss of Debenhams. The high street must adapt to meet the desire and demands of shoppers, visitors and residents.”

    Source: Written from press release. 


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    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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