Black Friday has been plagued with issues since the US shopping event first arrived on these shores.
It is hard to forget the chaos in 2014 as shoppers wrestled over cheap TVs in Asda, and the stampede last year after a fight broke out on the London Underground at the height of the Black Friday rush hour.
There have been umpteen tales of website crashes, delivery delays and surges in returns – leaving customers feeling frustrated, rather than satisfied with their bargain purchases.
Yet many UK retailers have become addicted to the Black Friday drug and feel that they have no choice but to take part or risk losing trade.
This year, some multiple retailers seem to have abandoned any pretence at having a strategic, targeted approach. Hobbs, Karen Millen and Jack Wills are among those offering blanket discounts across all stock.
Fat Face appears to be holding firm to its anti-discounting stance. However, a quick Google search for ”Jigsaw Black Friday” brings up a landing page called “Our Friday”, which is offering up to 30% off the autumn edit – suggesting it may have fallen off the wagon.
I am reassured to see a change in attitude from Independents. Although many took the ”if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach last year, this time indies are pulling back from Black Friday because the squeeze on margins is just too great.
It is easy to see the appeal of Black Friday to drive sales and clear overhanging stock. Last year, John Lewis had the “biggest day ever” in its trading history on Black Friday, and Zalando broke its peak record with 2,000 orders per minute. GlobalData predicts that Black Friday will bring £10.4bn in sales to the UK this year, up 3.1% on 2017.
However, retailers must be more considered. How will targeted Black Friday promotions support the overall business strategy?
Instead of peaking too soon with blanket discounting, and depressing December spend, retailers should put a clever plan in place to keep the tills ringing until the end of the year.