As Christmas approaches, more of us are heading out to the shops or scouring the internet for the best price for that much-anticipated special gift. Are you waiting for the pre-Christmas sales? Black Friday, perhaps? How do you think that impacts on businesses, particularly small, British businesses?
‘Black Friday’ in Wales, has always been known as the Friday before Christmas where people go out on the town and usually get exceptionally drunk – all in the name of the Christmas spirit, of course. Across England, this day is known as ‘Black Eye Friday’ or ‘Mad Friday’ – names which are perhaps more apt…
However, in 2010, Amazon brought the American version of Black Friday to our shores, so instead of punching each other over a pint of beer, British people started punching each other to get the best deal on electronics instead…
Amazon is an American corporation, which had enjoyed years of Black Friday sales over in the US. The whole concept gained more traction in 2013 when ASDA (owned by another American corporation, Walmart) joined in.
Now every year, every business, big or small, is pressured into this bizarre competition to offer the lowest prices and most insane deals on one specific date. It is literally breaking businesses. Last year, ASOS issued a profit warning the day after the Black Friday sales – so many clothes sold at ridiculously low prices, with many of them being returned, refunded and potentially discarded due to being unsaleable. All this in an age where we are being encouraged to reduce waste and be more responsible…
The concept makes sense for a business such as Amazon – of course, that’s why they brought it over here. They have huge economies of sale meaning they can undercut most other businesses purely due to their incredible buying power. Last year, reports stated that Amazon owned 26% of the Black Friday and Cyber Week market – that’s colossal.
Businesses end up caught up in a race, but it’s a race to the bottom. Michael Ward, the boss of Harrods, once described the whole charade as being similar to ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’. Retail suicide.
Thankfully, big businesses are starting to help re-educate the general public on just how damaging this trend is, ultimately, for us all. Last year, Harrods, M&S, Selfridges, Dunelm and several others opted against joining in the furore. I especially like Dunelm’s slogan for the period: “Great value every day, not just Fridays.”
Nobody wins in this game in the long term. We all love a bargain – I know I do! However, there comes a point where it just goes too far. Black Friday is a case in point.
I am a small business owner, I know many other small business owners, we don’t price our products to give ourselves a huge margin that we can then afford to slash on a whim. We price our products to allow us to make money for our hours of dedication, knowledge, hard work and stress, and to give you, our loyal customers, the best value we possibly can. I do occasionally offer discounts but trust me when I say that on the sales where those discounts are used, I don’t make very much profit at all. In small businesses, it’s more about the relationship and establishing customer loyalty with respect; those occasional discounts are my ‘thank you’ to you.
Please shop responsibly this Christmas, and throughout the year.