Black Friday upon us and sales expected to hit the roof ñ Consumers should keep their feet on the ground


November 2014

Black Friday upon us and sales expected to hit the roof ñ Consumers should keep their feet on the ground

Today is the date of Thanksgiving in the US and with all due respect to the traditions which accompany a festival of such esteem, it heralds a far more significant occasion tomorrow as far as the UK is concerned.

Black Friday is upon us tomorrow and given the rate at which shops across the UK are embracing the US-conceived, bargain-filled day, record numbers of consumers are expected to flock to retailers across the country to take advantage of the great value on offer.

In fact, retail chiefs are forecasting sales amounting to over double the revenue raked in by the retail industry last year, with electrical goods expected to be the most cost-effective items on offer.

Supermarkets are amongst the key players of this yearís Black Friday, as Sainsburysí joins Asda and Tesco this year in nationwide participation, with the latterís 24-hour stores opening as soon as the clock strikes 12, promising discounts of up to 70% on its wide product range.

All major retailers have carried out extensive promotional campaigns in the build up to Black Friday, with John Lewis most notably keeping its leading department store in Oxford Street open until 10pm marking the longest day in its illustrious 150 year history.

"Following steady growth over the last few years, Black Friday really emerged in the UK in 2013, when we saw the day break our previous records for a single day's online trade," says Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis.

Amazon brought Black Friday, and the discount-induced frenzy which accompanies it, to Britain in 2010 after it picked up on UK web userís indignation at the great prices American consumers received every year. Since then, nearly all of the UKís largest retailers have come on board, seeing the opportunity to tap into the wealth of consumers on offer.

Asda, owned by US giant Walmart, has stated that 441 of its stores will have around 700,000 reduced products on offer across the UK, symbolising its intent to not repeat the same mistakes it made last year when it ran out of stock before all its consumers could have their wants satisfied.

An idea permeating through the retail market is the expansion of the Christmas shopping season, so that consumers who buy early will forget the purchases they have already made, and be prepared to splurge even more as Christmas Day approaches. Such is the heightened willingness of shoppers to part with their cash in the build-up to Christmas that retailers believe advertising gimmicks such as Black Friday could serve to promulgate a culture of consumerism in the last month of the year ñ a culture which will only burgeon if Black Friday sales continue to outstrip the previous year.

However, consumers ought to be on their toes for sneaky retailers offering massive discounts on outmoded items in bids to fob off end-line stock. Moreover, overt marketing techniques focussed on making consumerís unthinkingly part with their cash due to the supposed great value a product comes with, despite having no real need for the product, ought to be watched out for ñ Be savvy when shopping.