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UK Black Friday transactions up, sales down, early data shows

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LONDON (Reuters) - Black Friday transactions in Britain are up versus last year but the amount spent has been lower, initial data showed on Friday.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all debit and credit card transactions in the UK, had, as of 1000 GMT, seen a 16 percent increase in the volume of payment transactions compared to the same period on Black Friday last year, it said.

But it had also seen a 21 percent decrease in the amount spent.

The data indicates that Britons are favoring small ticket items and eschewing bigger ones.

Britain’s retailers are hoping Black Friday discounts will get shoppers spending again after a torrid year for much of the sector that has seen a string of store groups go out of business or announce shop closures.

Retailers are battling subdued consumer spending, rising labor costs, higher business property taxes, growing online competition and uncertainty over Brexit.

Some retailers said the event had got off to a busy start. Dixons Carphone's DC.L Currys PC World electricals business said it had seen three orders per second. Best selling items included the Nintendo Switch Neon Red games console.

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store group, said the number one searched for products so far on Friday were Apple Airpods and the Applewatch series 3, which had savings of 15 pounds ($19.2) and 60 pounds, respectively.

Separately Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre warned that Black Friday sales could be targeted for cyber-crime. The UK’s cyber-security defense agency, part of the GCHQ intelligence service, said shoppers should be wary of risks and take precautions.

Reporting by James Davey, editing by Louise Heavens