The Black Friday phenomenon come to the UK in 2010 and since then each year we have been bombarded with gaudy adverts declaring huge sales and discounts for a limited time.
Brands have been starting their Christmas advertising campaigns and stocking advent calendars earlier and earlier each year, and the introduction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has increased that even more. We saw marketing campaigns from Tesco starting early November in order to create interest and demand in time for the rush.
We’ve seen black Friday grow from one day to a full week in some cases (see Amazons ‘Cyber Deals Week’) but is it all just a scam?
UK consumers were spending at an estimated rate of £2,313,760 per minute on Friday, but amid all the madness some brands are refusing to subscribe. Fashion brand Jigsaw’s Chief Executive Peter Ruis goes as far as to claim that 50% - 60% of Black Friday purchases are returned, marking the whole event as an ‘utter deception’. This high rate of returns is likely due to customers making huge amounts of impulse buys - did you really need 10 Michael Bublé calendars?
Whilst the American trend draws in customers, I have to ask if it is really beneficial for shops. Retailers fish out a large amount of stock at low prices, slashing profit margins and causing potentially huge stock piles in warehouses. Online retailers put added pressure on their supply chains in order to cope with demand, and if demand is too high, delays are inevitable and therefore so are bad reviews. In chasing short term gain, companies are seriously at risk of long term damage from customer relationships and reputation.
And aside from the strain on logistics, large retailers such as John Lewis felt the impact on their websites as thousand of visitors flocked to get the best deals. Macy’s site collapsed after too many shoppers caused a ‘shopping jam’, whilst GAME’s website also buckled under the weight of hopeful xbox owners.
Black Friday looks set to grow as more companies jump on the band wagon every year to boost sales and brand awareness, meaning Christmas shopping could soon mean sleeping outside M&S waiting for a first glimpse of deals on Tupperware, running over to Curry’s to fight for the last discounted dishwasher and coming home with a head injury or broken leg. Each to their own - I’m staying in, instead.
Written by Emily Hale & Andrew Thomson