Will you survive Black Friday?

Events By Josanne Griffin-Mason, 26th November 2014

Black Friday is looming over the horizon… Marketers and civilians alike: be very afraid.

The tradition

Black Friday is an American invention, which takes place on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day.

Largely regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season, many retailers open extremely early (as in, midnight!) and run promotional sales to give consumers a festive shove through shopping mall doors.

The tradition dates back to the 1950s, and it’s thought that business owners later coined the term to describe their finances. From January through to November, companies would be operating at a financial loss ‘in the red’, whilst Black Friday marks the date when profits would pick up, putting them back ‘in the black’.

The scary bit? Black Friday has caused people to die.

The Black Friday Death Count provides a list of the deceased and injured, from one man stabbed for his parking space outside a shopping complex, to another trampled to death on a shop floor by hoards of bargain hunters.

The Black Friday pandemic hits UK shores

Experts predict that (Black) Friday the 28th of November 2014 will be one of the busiest online shopping days that this country has ever known, foreseeing shoppers to spend a dizzying £6K1 every second.

It’s really no surprise. In 2010, Amazon tentatively invited the Black Friday tradition over to our side of the world as it ran a handful of promotions; us Brits lapped them up, more retailers jumped on board, and this year, Amazon is offering over 3,000 price cuts – as will the rest of the retail realm.

Buy Nothing Day

Of course, a day steeped in hedonistic consumerism is going to cause alarm bells to ring; the sad fact is that 20%2 of the world population are consuming over 80% of Earth’s natural resources.

That’s why the day after Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day. On Saturday the 29th of November 2014, we’re all being challenged to take a 24 hour shopping detox from buying things we don’t need in an effort to help people, animals and our environment.

How should marketers get involved?

A lot of businesses have resounded to the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em…’ mentality.

John Lewis have thrown their hands up and announced Black Friday 2014 with the opener ‘If our competitors have a sale we have a sale’. They don’t mention that the last time they held a Black Friday promotion, it resulted in the company’s highest ever online traffic figures3.

The key is to not use Black Friday to sell off your organised landfill.

If you can offer your customers genuinely good value, then do so. If you just plan on selling outdated stock under the false premise of a money-saving deal, the sceptics will see straight through it, and you’ll be tarnished with the desperate marketer brush.

Eco companies may prefer to give something back on Buy Nothing Day. Whether that involves donating unsold stock to charity or if it means investing time in to setting up initiatives within your production process that reduce environmental impact.

1 The Drum, 2014. Shoppers expected to spend £6K per second as UK retailers slash prices for Black Friday. [Online] Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/11/22/shoppers-expected-spend-6k-second-uk-retailers-slash-prices-black-friday.
2 Buy Nothing Day, 2014. Shop £€$$ Live More. [Online] Available at: http://www.buynothingday.co.uk/.
3 Telegraph, 2014. Black Friday 2014 explained – retailers gearing up for a day of deals. [Online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11217839/Black-Friday-2014-Get-ready-for-the-biggest-online-shopping-day-in-history.html.

All information sources accessed on 25th November 2014.