Until just a couple of years ago, us Brits had scarcely heard of Black Friday, traditionally an American event which takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving and signifies the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. This year, however, UK retailers are setting up for what promises to be the biggest Black Friday yet, with hundreds of companies slashing prices in a bid to outdo their competitors and cash in on the Christmas shopping rush.
Last year saw the first major British participation in Black Friday, which brought with it hordes of shoppers desperate to get their hands on the pre-Christmas bargains, there were even reports of ‘mini-riots’ in the large supermarket chains. This year, UK retailers know what’s coming and are taking varied approaches to manage the Black Friday rush. Many companies are running a ‘Black Friday Week’ or are kicking off their deals from Thursday and allowing them to run all weekend. This helps to avoid the rush on Friday and allows retailers to capitalise on the increased spending for a longer period of time. There is also a focus on Black Friday online, encouraging consumers to cash in on the big savings from the comfort of their own home and thus taking some of the strain off staff and stock levels in stores.
Other companies are choosing to opt out of Black Friday altogether. Online furniture company, Made, have launched their ‘Just Say No’ campaign to explain why they will not be taking part in Black Friday this year. Their video features images of packed, chaotic shopping malls and explains that their prices are low all year round so cannot afford to drop anymore. The video closes with the message ‘Made – every day is Black Friday’. There has been much discussion surrounding the campaign, with critics claiming that the decision not to participate has nothing to do with Made’s prices, but is instead a clever publicity stunt. Whatever the reason behind Made’s choice to opt out of Black Friday, the ‘Just Say No’ campaign has been incredibly successful in getting the brand’s name into the press.
So what companies are taking part in Black Friday this year? Amazon will be offering huge discounts on a number of products as well as slashing the cost of subscription to Amazon Prime, their next day delivery service. John Lewis have launched a dedicated Black Friday page on their website and has promised to honour it’s competitors prices, sticking to it’s pledge to ‘never knowingly undersell’. Argos will also be taking part in the Black Friday discounts and has been offering deals in the three Fridays leading up to Black Friday as part of it’s ‘Red, White and Blue Fridays’ campaign.