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Black Friday: How Sales Have Changed How We Spend

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Black Friday: How Sales Have Changed How We Spend

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Just a short number of years ago, Black Friday was an unknown in the UK. We may have heard of it in passing on American TV programmes, or from friends and loved ones living the US, but it wasn’t something that we needed to think about, concern ourselves with, or really do anything about.
However, that has changed. Now Black Friday is a huge event, with UK consumers looking at spending in the region of £5.8bn at this time. Since Black Friday takes place on the third Friday of November each year (it’s the day after Thanksgiving in America), it is the ideal time to snap up some bargains for Christmas, and that reason – amongst others including the fact that the UK consumer simply loves to save money where possible – is why it is so popular now.
But what does that say about us and the businesses that are selling to us? How are we now changing the way we shop?
November Is A Boom Month
If you’re a retailer, December would have been the best month – on average – of the year for you before Black Friday came across the pond. Although a small number of people would enjoy starting (and finishing) their Christmas shopping early, for most time poor people, it all fell in December, and often right up until Christmas Eve when the shops would stay open to accommodate those looking for last minute gifts.
Now, if you’re not offering Black Friday discounts in November, you’re missing out. November is now the month that you need to concentrate on, and it’s not just about promoting your products – you need to have some impressive deals too. The good news is, now that everyone is fully up to speed with Black Friday and what it entails, you can spend as much time as you need planning for it so that your marketing and products – and the all important pricing – is exactly how you want it. Yes, you want to sell, but you also need to make a profit, so be careful when discounting too wildly. 
Online Sales Are Growing
It is said that we have Amazon to thank for bringing Black Friday to our shores and doors back in 2010. At that time, Black Friday was literally one day of massive sales, and the number of people rushing to click on their must-haves and add them to their virtual baskets once the clock struck midnight was immense.
Unfortunately, it broke the internet. Or at least a reasonably large part of the ecommerce side of the internet. So now Black Friday lasts a lot longer than just one day, and pretty much all of November is a special sale time.
That means consumers have a little more time to browse and think about what they want to buy, and panic purchases are few and far between. That’s great for everyone involved, as the customers are happier and the retailers are more easily able to keep up with demand (and not have to deal with buyer’s remorse as much either).
It also means that we’re buying online a lot more. We can compare items more easily, and not be rushed into buying when there is no need.
This can, of course, be a problem for high street retailers, and despite their excellent deals they may find that buying online is trumping them. Click and collect options do increase the potential to have people coming through the door, though. Having to wait for goods to be delivered (and potentially missing that delivery due to work or the school run and so on) is not always convenient, especially at such a busy time as the run up to Christmas. If a retail shop can offer a click and collect service and have excellent Black Friday deals they may just win out after all. 
Is It Good For Everyone?
Originally, Black Friday offers were mainly restricted to electrical items which meant that not all stores could be involved. This was likely of some relief to many who wouldn’t normally want to discount their goods, and who would prefer to stick with their tried and tested January sales models.
However, as the years have gone by and retailers have seen the impact on sales that Black Friday brings, almost anything you can think of can be found at a lower price during November and the beginning of December. This has caused problems. It has meant that, by keeping up with everyone else and the competition in particular, prices have had to be reduced, and that in turn has meant a decrease in profits. Selling more at lower prices might seem like great business, but it is profits that count, and if they are lower than normal businesses could run into difficulties.
This has become such an issue for some companies that they are no longer taking part in any Black Friday sales. These include Asda, Primark, and Marks and Spencer. Of course, there is a positive spin that can be put on this refusal to join in; the prices are already excellent, they are already low, and these shops have not been selling items at inflated prices throughout the rest of the year. Not all consumers are going to appreciate this spin, however, and again, by not being involved sales could slump which could work out as bringing in the same profits as heavily reduced goods. It is a quandary that retailers have to contend with, and it is a difficult one to solve.
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