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Who will break Black Friday first?

Who will break Black Friday first?

Will it be consumers – who are already realising, thanks in part to this week’s Which? report, that Black Friday prices are not always the lowest available?

Or will it be retailers, many of whom are still in denial about having to give away margin during what should be their most profitable quarter?

Maybe these are just the growing pains for an event that was foisted onto UK retailers by Amazon, which has already turned the promotion into a fortnight-long event. After all, some retailers were fully prepared last year; they bought their Black Friday stock in January, knowing exactly what they would charge and what margin they would get. Others just stick a Black Friday poster over a bunch of slow-moving stock and hope for the best.

And yet, the pundits are predicting a bumper Black Friday – £5bn total of which up to £1.5bn will be spent online, up from £1bn last year.  This may be fuelled by the belief that this could be the last Black Friday of low prices as the outfall from Brexit pushes prices up for next year.

But what no one can know precisely is what impact does this all have on Christmas? And does it matter?

In the US, they are both part of a wider event called the holidays, which is possibly the neatest way to deal with the fact that a significant percentage of Black Friday sales must be a hedge against Christmas spend.

The analysts are at least starting to combine figures from both ‘events’ into their predictions so it is perhaps no longer useful to call them out separately.

All of which avoids the real question. What does Black Friday mean for trading across the rest of the year?

In truth, probably very little, given that the promotional landscape is getting flatter and flatter; multiple events run into each other and all the gaps are being filled by every day bargains – look how many retailers offer discounts on the so-called RRP 365 days of the year.

The real problem is that, when it comes to promotions, the consumer is not consulted or included.

As a result, they simply react by forcing prices down and down. Would consumers accept a more balanced pricing structure if they were involved in the process? Who knows, because that is a journey that no one has yet embarked on. Whoever dares to go there first will need to challenge traditional marketing, moving from push to collaborate.


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