A report last week suggests that Asda have been having a serious rethink over their involvement in Black Friday this year, despite being one of the key players responsible for bringing the American idea to these shores. (Traditionally the Black Friday sale is held every year in the US on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is always on a Thursday) Now owned by American mega-brand, Walmart, Asda have suggested they have adapted their Black Friday retail strategy after voicing some concerns about their involvement after last years’ recession-fuelled scuffles where people were literally hospitalised in their quest for a bargain in stores throughout the UK. After studying the figures, Asda have recognised that the one day flash sale is disruptive to trading and can also risk their reputation – but is it too late to put the genie back into the bottle and can they encourage other businesses to follow suit?
According to Retail Week, bosses at Asda have decided to scale back their participation in the promotional frenzy this year, after sales figures from 2014 suggested that Black Friday had an extremely disruptive effect on their sales patterns during their crucial ‘golden’ sales quarter – and they were embarrassed at the way some shoppers fought like animals over discounted flat screen televisions in some of their stores at last years’ event.
Whilst Asda admit it is unlikely that they will do nothing at all on Black Friday (which falls on 27th November this year). It will be a low-key affair and they will take steps to avoid the frenzied and dangerous shopping activities, which marred last year’s event.
As one of the key players in introducing Black Friday to the UK (along with Amazon), now that Asda have announced their position on Black Friday it is suggested that other retailers might also follow suit and also reduce their own level of discounting or not participate at all.
Last year’s event distorted the pattern of seasonal trading – rather than creating extra revenues, it simply brought sales forward and – coupled with the embarrassment of squabbling shoppers – some industry chiefs suggest that there is no benefit to adopting Black Friday here in the UK at all. Speaking about the trend earlier this year, Andy Street of John Lewis agreed with this view:
“It is not in the industry’s interest to focus so much trade onto one day. You want more steady trade and obviously you want more of it at full price.”
Despite Asda saying they are going to tone down the event, retail commentators suggest that the public haven’t received the memo. This year Black Friday is anticipated to garner ‘intense consumer interest’. Digital consultancy Salmon have gone so far as to forecast that Black Friday 2015 will become the UK’s first £1billion online shopping day.
Where do you stand on the Black Friday phenomenon? Are you sharpening your elbows or staying indoors with the computer switched off? We’d be interested to see what happens next Friday and will be closely following this trend.
Black Friday at Asda Wembley last year: