28 October 2016
It’s four weeks exactly until Black Friday and, even three years on from the arrival of the phenomenon into the UK, opinion is divided as to its relevance in this country.
Put simply, Black Friday is day after Thanksgiving in the US, and traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season. Since 2013, some (predominately American) retailers have ushered in the practice in the UK of unveiling special deals on the day - flash sales, limited availability and exclusive discounts – in a bid to secure the seasonal pound. Christmas 2014 saw retailers including Very.com and John Lewis jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon, while over £2bn was spent in shops and online during the 24 hour period last year.
Seemingly, the phenomenon is big business for retailers, and an opportunity for consumers to hunt down a bargain. When it comes to smaller retailers however, is Black Friday relevant, and can the smaller business hold its own against the global players? Internet psychologist Graham Jones explains.
“The real reason that events like Black Friday work is nothing to do with the price reductions on offer, but rather the limited availability of certain items,” he says. “The large retailers will say things like ‘only 50 available at this price’, and this appeals to our sense of scarcity; when something is scarce it becomes more attractive to us. Also, the fact that the offer is only available for one day on Black Friday makes it scarce too.”
According to Jones, smaller retailers are just as well-positioned as the bigger players to tap into this mentality with some well-thought out exclusive promotions of their own.
“Deals such as ‘only three left’, or ‘this afternoon only’ will appeal to scarcity and attract buyers,” continues Jones. “The issue is whether small retailers should use such promotions on the same day as larger retailers. The chances are that the small retailer will become invisible amongst all the noise created by the dominant shops. However, on the other hand, loyal customers of small retailers may expect them to take part in such national promotions.”
The result is a minefield for the smaller independent, although Jones claims that there are positives to be had if a retailer is wise in his or her interpretation of Black Friday phenomenon.
“It would make sense for small retailers to offer Black Friday promotions, but not shout about them,” he concludes. “Then, later in the year - such as on Small Business Saturday - they could use the same scarcity principle and be more visible in doing so, as the big retailers wouldn't be hogging the limelight.”
What do you think? Tweet us at @ModaExhibitions to share your experiences of #BlackFriday.