Thursday, November 27, 2014

What does Black Friday mean to the UK?

It seems to me that the use of 'Black Friday' as a retail promotional tool is now everywhere in the UK. From Glasgow to Manchester and Plymouth to London it seems to have sprung up from almost nowhere just few years ago into a few days of serious high street and online discounting.

But why is it especially this year that a lot of UK retailers have embraced an American holiday?

Here's a few suggestions:

1. The high street needs to stimulate sales
Following a mild autumn, a lot of people have not raced out to the shops in September and October to buy items such as a new Winter wardrobe (if you don't believe me, ask your peers if many have bought a big coat recently).Consequently year on year takings are down across a number of sectors, including clothing.
2. Autumn sales aren't a new thing
Discounting around this time isn't a new concept and many stores have been having 'mid-season sales' for decades. Yes, a lot of retailers have been dropping prices of specific products and ranges in mid-to-late November, it's just that...

3. Black Friday sounds cool
It's good to give something a catchy name and it seems that yes black is indeed the new black.  I suggest the fact that it refers to the day after the US commemorate a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621 is pretty irrelevant to the average Brit.

4. The UK is becoming more and more American-ized
As reflected in: the recent growth in Halloween over this side of the pond, the increase in Seattle style coffee shops that sell huge capacity cups of caffeine and the gradual use of "Tuxedo" (an American club that adopted the use of the black suit and tie) over the "Dinner Jacket".

5. The Internet is reducing cultural barriers
I first noticed the use of 'Black Friday' on Amazon.com about a decade ago, when just like today, I couldn't find anything interesting to buy on the site. The increasing use of global eCommere sites like Amazon, eBay and the like have created a boundary-less society that is only too happy to embrace different retailing concepts.

Which leads me to a slightly cynical further idea... Could it be that Black Friday is just another ploy adopted by savvy retailers across the globe to get rid stuff that would never have shifted at full price anyway?
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