Having already discussed this topic at length, I was planning to not comment any more but my hand has been forced. Hearing Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S, today talk about it as a new shopping trend consumers want seems rather absurd. If you ask people whether they would like to pay less for what they are going to buy, you’ll get the blindingly obvious answer “yes”. How many UK consumers have in the past been in America to shop that way? Very very few.
Black Friday and discounting in the run up to Christmas is a proxy for the winners and also rans. Those retailers who managed to stick to their guns and maintain full prices have predominantly posted much stronger numbers than those that have not. This will become even more clear in several month’s time when the audited results begin to seep through and we get to see the margin implications.
Pandora’s box is now open and I’m sure there will be a repeat next year: the less strong, more pressured players will feel forced to join the discounters but those still strong enough will be 100% right to resist. The polarised performance numbers underline that this is not a trend driven by consumers: core customers of the strongest are still buying at full price. This is a lemming-like, if you can’t beat them join them mentality which doesn’t merely dilute performance but brand equity and trust.