Black Friday: the good, the bad and the bargains

The annual shopping phenomenon that is Black Friday has arrived with us once again, however this year there has also been a growing feeling of discontent, as numerous publications released articles demonising the day for offering up false bargains, discouraging people to shop local and encouraging consumerism in a world that needs less consumption, not more.

Metro reported this week that ‘only one in 20 deals are actually cheaper on Black Friday’, according to an investigation by consumer group Which?, who had tracked the prices of 83 products on sale on Black Friday in 2019 for a year – from six months before until six months after. They found that deals from brands including Currys PC World, Amazon and John Lewis weren’t as impressive as they first appeared, with 61% of the products on offer cheaper or the same price on at least one day in the six months before Black Friday. This increased to 74% of products in the six months after the big day, fuelling a new distrust for the event.

In addition, a number of smaller brands are boycotting the event, choosing to keep prices low all year round, donate to charity in place of discounting product, or collaborate with another small business to offer gifts with purchases – one of our clients, luxury silk scarf brand Firehorse, last year teamed up with Powder to give away sample size perfumes with every purchase. Often small businesses are hit the hardest during Black Friday/Cyber Weekend, as their profit margins won’t allow big discounts, so these nods to the weekend without having to make a loss (or very small profit) on product are a great way to get involved. Equally, it is heartening to see a number of influencers including Susie Verril and Alex at The Frugality, championing small brands amongst the big brands, too.

However, there is an alternative side to the holiday – one that allows consumers to purchase items they would have bought anyway, or gifts for loved ones for Christmas, at a discount. With good research and planning, it is possible to shop the sales without being scammed – numerous brands, our clients included, put genuine discounts on to products as a way of thanking their customers for their purchases over the year, for a bit of extra marketing and as encouragement to spend at a competitive time of year. There are also brands such as Zara who will discount for this one day but not at all throughout the year, attracting a new market or just encouraging further spending from current customers.

Within the office, we’re all set for Black Friday, with lists written, prices compared and the hope that all of our Christmas shopping will be finished by tonight. However, it’s not something we or anyone should take lightly – the key to making the most of Black Friday is asking ‘do I really need this?’, ‘can I afford to buy this?’ and ‘does this offer feel too good to be true?’ (often if it seems that way, it is). Black Friday is one trend that we can’t see abating any time soon, but perhaps one that might be used a little more carefully as people navigate the pitfalls of what is arguably the biggest date in the shopping calendar.

– Jazmin Farrell-Cabrera, Director and Co-Founder

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