Since originating in the United States, Black Friday has since migrated to many other economies around the globe where businesses offer a wide range of deals and discounts for a limited time. Starting the day after American Thanksgiving, it effectively marks the beginning of the festive shopping season.
With huge shifts in the way customers are shopping, is Black Friday still as relevant as it once was? Does a day of ‘too-good-to-be-true offers’, which in turn powers-up consumerism, still align with the values of the modern shopper, particularly those that are looking to support small businesses?
Black Friday remains a firm date in the retail calendar
Despite a turbulent last 2 years for the retail industry, Black Friday is still very much part of retailer’s annual sales plan. A recent survey by GlobalData found that “38.6% of consumers intend to purchase during Black Friday this year”. When optimised well Black Friday can kick start early Christmas spending, according to SpendMeNot “30% of all retail sales occur from Black Friday until Christmas“– potentially crucial this year with predicated delays and shortages.
The conscious shopper turns to Small Business for their offers
Shopping has changed, and consumers are more interested in shopping local, sustainably and supporting small businesses. Black Friday is, without doubt, a great time for small businesses to sell stock – either clocking up early festive sales or shifting stock to make way for more Christmas products – and also to build customer loyalty.
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Smaller retailers can offer alternatives to discounts – they can offer incentives such as unique products, referral bonuses, free next-day shipping, extended returns and loyalty perks. A charity donation for many independent retailers will speak to their customer’s values directly – it’s not all about price slashing.
There are options for small businesses that want to avoid Black Friday altogether Small Business Saturday has gained a lot of traction over the last few years and more recently Holly Tucker’s ‘Colour Friday’ launched as an alternative to Black Friday “to remind us all to celebrate the colour and creativity that small businesses bring to the UK…before it’s too late”. Small businesses do have power in the retail space – The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy found that at the start of 2018, 99.9% of the 5.7 million registered businesses in the U.K. were either small or medium in size. So independent retailers shouldn’t shy away just because it can sometimes seem that the big brands dominate this event – not least local shipping is a huge advantage for smaller businesses in these challenging times.
Online is still Queen
A key change for how customers shop is the move to online. This shift accelerated during the pandemic when physical stores were unable to open and retailers had to rapidly pivot to reach their customer. According to research from shopping comparison site finder.com – this year, 84% of Black Friday shoppers will make some purchases online. So small businesses must ensure their websites are tip top with ideally multiple payment options – which aligns with independent retail experts advice for a successful Christmas.
It’s a time for giving
Independent retailers taking part should focus on enticing their customers with a warm festive feeling and put their ‘gift’ products front and centre. While the big retailers will compete to satisfy consumer’s appetite for electrical discounts – small businesses can maximise their USP – thoughtful, local and sustainable gifts.