I have been clear in my views of Black Friday. It’s crazy and for most retailers, it damages the brand and bottom line. For Amazon It’s a stick with which to beat much of the industry, and other predominantly online retailers can also benefit. For most others though, PR departments work overtime to convince the outside world that it’s a great success.
Much of the trade would love to opt out but in this weakest of all retail markets, few have succeeded. M&S has transformed its promotional strategy this year and has already made its opt out clear. This week, we have found seven retailers who have already launched their Black Friday promotions – AO, Blacks, Currys PCWorld, Halfords, ShopDirect, Vodafone and Wiggle. In fact Halfords and Wiggle both got in first by launching last week. What is worth noting though is that none of these retailers had launched this time last year – perhaps a sign of the materially tighter market we are now seeing.
So what will Black Friday look like in 2017? Last year, 84% of non-food retailers took part. So far this year, promotions are tracking 2016 very closely and very slightly lower. I expect this pattern to translate into Black Friday with some of the stronger retail brands managing to opt out but most finding the fear of lost sales overwhelming.
With demand thin and consumer confidence brittle, Black Friday will essentially suck Christmas sales forward. This will ensure that most of UK retail will be on sale from early next week, right the way through until the New Year. So much for the Golden Quarter.
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