By Dale Eaton
Black Friday, two words that would strike fear into the hearts of retail workers up and down the country. However, the shopping craze which has been a staple of American life for decades hasn’t had the same impact in the UK.
Black Friday shopping has been a tradition in the United States of America for over 80 years. The traditional post-thanksgiving shopping day has origins as far back as 1924 when the department store Macy’s advertised some post-thanksgiving shopping during the massive New York thanksgiving day parade.
The shopping craze took much longer to grace the shores of the UK. It first arrived in 2010 when retail juggernauts Amazon offered consumers a vast range of discounts and deals.
Other retailers soon followed suit and caused a shopping frenzy. The frenzy soon got out of hand in the case of popular supermarket chain Asda who’s Black Friday sales in 2014 broke out into fights as customers fought over televisions.
The notorious day of discounts has massively changed in the past few years in the UK. Retail consultant and media commentator Graham Soult said: “In the last few years there have been a few trends that you’ve seen, one of which is a few businesses saying actually we’re not going to get involved in this at all, we’re going to do our own thing.
“In particular I think retailers are spreading it out over a weekend or a whole week instead of a single day.”
Black Friday has vastly moved away from the days of frenzied shopping and fighting over products, to a more simple online format. Graham Soult commented: “Online seems to be where the bulk of the activity is and if you go out on the high street on Black Friday actually it’s often quite quiet.”
Statistic’s from IMRG suggest that this year’s Black Friday could see retailers struggle massively. IMRG anticipates growth of just 2-3% for the Black Friday period, which they define as an eight-day period running from 25 November through 2 December. This represents the lowest forecast they have ever put out for a major online sales event.
Graham Soult very much agrees with the IMRG forecast, saying: ” I think there was some source somewhere that suggested that Christmas this year might be the worst one since 2008 which is the year that Woolworths went bust and just after all the financial crash.
“It’s not looking like it’s going to be a vintage year. Brexit is still a factor because people aren’t quite sure what’s happening with it and as long as there’s kind of uncertainty and worries people are less likely to feel the urge to spend.”
Another factor adding to what could be a lean year for retailers are consumers’ changing spending habits according to Graham Soult. “People are generally spending more on experiences and less on material things and retailers are having to work harder and harder to sell things that people want to buy.”