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Black Friday discounts loom as retailers look to shift unsold stock

Retailers are hoping to regain some of the sales lost due to the unseasonably warm weather over recent months and clear stock through controlled and targeted discounting on Black Friday.

Black Friday, which falls on November 28 this year, is the Friday following Thanksgiving in the US and is coming to be regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some industry observers have predicted “unprecedented” discounts as retailers – particularly high street multiples and department stores – try to shift unsold autumn stock.

However, independent retailers contacted by Drapers said they plan to discount by around 10% to 15% on average, which is thought to be equivalent to last year. Many were optimistic that they would recoup recent lost sales as the weather turns colder.

Ray Hernan, chief executive of Dublin department store Arnotts, said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen an uplift in sales as the cooler, damper weather has set in, particularly in coats. For the business overall we are optimistic that the last quarter will be strong despite the last couple of months being tough.”

The store plans to run promotions of about 20% on Black Friday, in line with last year. “We are trying to avoid promotions as it hits our margins, but Sales are becoming synonymous with the build-up to Christmas.”

Paul Monks, owner of Purple Menswear in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said he is likely to email or text a 10% to 15% discount to his customer database on the day.

Deryane Tadd, owner of St Albans womenswear store The Dressing Room in St Albans, also in Hertfordshire, said she is planning “something small online” for Black Friday, such as free delivery and complimentary gift wrapping, but will do more a few days later on Cyber Monday.  

“On Cyber Monday we’re doing a bit more because that ties into our in-store event on the Sunday beforehand, and with online. We’re doing a 10% discount on the Monday and Tuesday on all purchases made online.”

Christopher Suitor, owner of Belfast store Suitor Menswear, said retailers must remember the autumn 14 season can go right through to April or May next year, and called for indies to hold their nerve. “Even though this year we have increased our autumn 14 spend, we are not going to panic and start giving stuff away. It will get cold, and people will buy.”

Despite this, many industry observers have anticipated deeper discounting on the high street as retailers try to clear stock.  Accountancy firm KPMG’s head of retail David McCorquodale said: “This year Black Friday is expected to see unprecedented discounts and offers launched by a wide range of UK retailers.”

Roger Finn, divisional sales director of Manchester-based supplier SRG Apparel, which works with high street multiples, agreed: “Consumers are going to have the Christmas of their lives, there will be so much discounting.”

According to research by fashion research firm Editd, John Lewis, House of Fraser and fashion portal Farfetch are likely to be the biggest discounters, promoting mostly tops and accessories. House of Fraser said it would be taking part in Black Friday with “significant offers”, but could not confirm details.

Readers' comments (5)

  • I am really hoping that retailers are able to regain some of the profit lost - and who doesn't look forward to Black Friday every year!

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  • darren hoggett

    The one thing that makes me laugh about this whole industry is that nearly everyone will talk about 'getting margin', then do almost everything possible not to get it.

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  • Well said Darren. Straight talking sense.

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  • Not every retailer has had poor sales. it's very easy to blame the weather. We have been aware for the last 20 years that it is transitional wear that create the main turnover and are buying less heavy winter items, however fur coats did sell well in June!!

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  • Mick Harwood

    I wish we hadn't been so willing to embrace this Black Friday nonsense. I'm sure the idea was driven by the larger players needing a further excuse to drive turnover, by discounting (regardless of margin).

    Now customers hold back on spending until Black Friday, which in turn leaves stock unsold. Then retailers feel that they need to discount stock to move it.

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