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Retailers to scale back 'kiss of death' Black Friday

After a promotional start to the summer season, and with exactly four months to go until Black Friday, retailers are planning to scale back their discounting plans as the promotional frenzy fails to deliver profitable sales.

Last year there was a 72% increase in the number of UK retailers taking part in Black Friday, compared with 2017, data from retail sales aggregator showed. Among those joining the discounting event for the first time were Jigsaw and Whistles, which previously shunned Black Friday Sales.

However, this year brands and retailers including Veja, White Stuff and Oasis and Warehouse will either be scaling back or abstaining from discounting on 29 November.

White Stuff CEO Jo Jenkins said: “While we are not planning to do a Black Friday specific event this year, we are planning to align our mid-season markdown event with Black Friday timing. This is an event that runs anyway, but this strategy gives the customer a great deal at the time they are actually searching for it.”

Veja co-founder Sébastien Kopp said: “All over the world, more and more brands are saying no to Black Friday.

“We took part [in the past], but we felt bad because we don’t like this craziness, we don’t like that everybody is pushed to buy products they don’t necessarily need, and that we may even not use. So Veja [has taken the decision] to say goodbye to Black Friday.”

Sustainable trainer brand Veja has taken part in Black Friday three times.

A source from one premium men’s and womenswear multiple said it had never participated in Black Friday, and will not do so this year: “We still see our sales spike over Black Friday due to the increase in footfall, but we do not need to discount.”

Meanwhile, independent retailers have called for multiples and fellow independents to boycott Black Friday altogether.

“I won’t be taking part in Black Friday any more unless we are really, really quiet”, said Julia Jaconelli, owner of premium womenswear independent Courtyard in Guildford. “It is the kiss of death to the Christmas season as customers expect reductions from Black Friday onwards until the new season – no one wants to pay full price again for something that’s been discounted.”

Zoie Walker, director of lifestyle store 32 The Guild in Northampton, agreed: “I am not going to be doing anything in regards to Black Friday. I hate everything it stands for and have no desire to partake. We should all stand as one, particularly independents, and have nothing to do with it.”

Souraya Karami Gyves, founder and designer of footwear independent Esska in Chiswick, west London, said: “What I am against is when other retailers and brands start the Sale a few days before, and it becomes longer than it should be, it feels like it’s a race and we are pushed to do it. But I am not planning on doing it before the day itself.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • darren hoggett

    Little will change in my opinion. The headlines will be ‘Due to poor trading, Brexit etc, retailer x has been ‘forced’ (sic) into discounting on Black Friday.’

    We never touch it, so it is not an issue with our customers. It should be avoided at all costs, by all, as it is completely self defeating and assumes that most consumers are price driven, which they are not

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  • How it has taken so long to realise this is beyond me. Just an exercise in follow my leader. It just moves sales not adds to them
    Hold your nerve and sell at full price.

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