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Retailer Insight: Black Friday or Fraud Friday?

Archie Hume, managing director of independent fashion retailer A Hume Country Clothing, is taking a stand against Black Friday discounting

A Hume has had a presence in the heart of Kelso in the Scottish Borders since 1929, and we now sell online to tens of thousands of customers worldwide. Our success is founded on a combination of technological innovation and traditional retail values. 

We won’t give in to the pressure to adopt a discount-pricing model. We view discounting as the grey squirrel of retail: something that’s endangering our home-grown retail model. Within this imported pricing culture, it’s impossible for customers to figure out what the real price of a product is, let alone the real value.

There used to be real bargains, but when retailers inflate prices to support Black Friday discounts it becomes Fraud Friday. It’s all a con. 

We know how it feels to buy something and then see it discounted. Everyone likes a bargain. But nobody likes to be cheated.

Everyone likes a bargain. But nobody likes to be cheated

Black Friday and other discounting practices only serve to undermine the trust between retailer and customer. We can’t in good conscience talk to our customers on the phone, meet them in the street or accept their online orders if we sell them a pair of boots one day, knowing that the next day they’ll be a fraction of the cost.

When we have our Sales – and we do have them – they are proper Sales. A post-Christmas Sale and an end of season Summer Sale. They are heavily promoted and predictable. We do our best to ensure all our customers know about the Sale. There are bargains to be had – real discounts and true savings.

We value the product we sell and our relationships with our suppliers. For example, we work closely with William Lockie & Co. They are one of the finest knitwear companies in the world, and one of the few left here in the Scottish Borders. Discounting could be extremely damaging to brands such as William Lockie, devaluing them in customers’ eyes.

If a retailer succumbs to pressure to discount a brand, it creates the expectation of further discounts. This makes it difficult for a brand to charge a fair price that reflects the costs and value of their product.

When producers find they can no longer afford to uphold the high standards of manufacturing in the face of discounting pressure, what choice will they have? Shut up shop or move production overseas. Unless retailers take a principled stand against discounting, all of our clothes will be made in sweat shops.

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • darren hoggett

    We totally applaud this philosophy, which should be a model to others and is refreshing to read. I particularly like the mention of trust between the retailer and customer. Hume is absolutely spot on with this, but it is something you rarely hear of these days as retail has seemed to bury itself in a short termism for too many years, which has left some high and dry.

    Retailers that participate in Black Friday because they state 'Everybody else does' is not a credible argument. It will not make your business better.

    Hopefully other retailers of all sizes will one day realise that Black Friday is not the way forward and concentrate on the basic fundamentals of business, which one could argue have been lost over the years.

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