Black Friday shaped to become ‘Returns Thursday’ amid economic strain


New research by Tink has revealed that merchants and consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with Black Friday as a result of the cost-of-living crisis mitigating profit margins and disposable income. 

Surveying more than 2,000 consumers and 500 online merchants in the UK, the report estimates that around 40% of shoppers are less likely to participate in this year’s anticipated sales period, with two in three (64%) planning to cut back on non-essential spending. 

Furthermore, consumers now seem to view Black Friday as less appealing compared to previous periods, with one in three (34%) responding that they’re satisfied with what they’re already getting in terms of regular discounts throughout the year.

Merchants on the other hand are preparing for lower-than-usual revenues, with half (49%) expecting a weak peak season, while one in four (27%) being worried about bankruptcy or insolvency. 

However, 43% of them still plan to participate in Black Friday, seeing it as a ‘necessary evil’ for their business. 

‘Returns Thursday’ 

According to the study, this year’s spending season will see 51% of merchants placing their focus on providing easy returns and refunds, as 46% of the surveyed businesses report that they’re seeing more returned items than ever before. 

This is based on last year’s Black Friday findings, when merchants reported around third (31%) of items purchased being returned afterwards – with Tink estimates showing an average of around £150 being returned for an average consumer spend of £472. 

Wanting more flexibility with returns is also evident from consumer sentiments, with one in five (19%) shoppers being worried that delayed Black Friday refunds will negatively impact their financial situation. 

On the overall situation, Tom Pope, SVP Payments & Platforms at Tink, commented: “It’s clear merchants and consumers alike are being hit with costs from all sides, and that will inevitably have a knock-on effect for Black Friday this year. A smooth returns process can make or break customer experience, especially when cost of living cashflow issues mean consumers need their money back as quickly as possible.”