It’s been a couple of weeks since the whole Black Friday Cyber Monday hyped up event…

…and following that was small business Saturday, and, as small retailers, did we experience the demand and surge eagerly expected?

Was it as buoyant and crazy as the first couple of Black Friday events that arrived here in the UK back in 2010 when Amazon first offered some amazing discounts to UK shoppers, and then in 2013 when Asda (owned by American Walmart) opened their doors to a stampede of customers elbowing each other out of the way to grab a flat screen TV?


5 years on, the event is no longer just a 4 day weekend event, it’s stretched across a 7, sometimes 10 day period dominated by the retail giants; Currys PC world, DFS, Argos, Carphone warehouse all starting their discounts in the days preceding Black Friday (Nov 23rd).


In the US, the Black Friday discount event originates back to 1950s. After President Roosevelt locked in the date for Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. The day after would become a public holiday, giving Americans the day off work to make a start on their Christmas shopping. The retailers realised they could “launch” the start of the festive shopping season with a string of deals and discounts on this particular day to entice the relaxed and happy shoppers to spend with them.


The event expanded into cyber Monday when, as the 21st century progressed, shopping online became the norm, and retailers heavily discounted electrical and tech items.


This brings me onto Black Friday in the UK.

It’s an event brought to us by US owned Amazon and Walmart, with the same intentions, ie an early boost to Christmas sales, but without the impact or heaviness that our American friends have.


You see in the states, they DO have some seriously good offers and deals.

And they are one-off, never to be repeated deals. They also have the advantage of a national holiday (think August bank holiday) whereby the average worker is enjoying a day off.


In the UK the multiples have become sneaky in their BF deals, a genuine deal this year was as rare as a dodo! I saw items that were on sale several weeks ago, also at the same price / discount during BF. I saw items that were full (regular) price a few weeks ago, had been marked UP 2 weeks before BF, and then marked down again (back to the starting price) to show heavy discounts for Black Friday.


I saw very few special buys, no end of line clearance deals, no exclusive items for retailers….


I saw tiny discounts on an item, with a free overpriced item included (worth a heavily inflated RRP)


I saw deals that went on for 7-10 days and bored customers were sick of the words Black Friday by the 24th November.


That was the multiples, the retail giants… the ones announcing store closures and job cuts. Yes I know they are desperately searching for something to save their shops, but watery deals will not be that saviour.


I did however see genuine deals off the beaten track… genuine, well thought out strategies and planned promotions… where? Tucked into corners of the high street, in small town centres, villages and pop up shops and events… yes the small independent retail sector were the winners in terms of trade, and in winning over the now bored high street shopper.


They had genuine offers that demonstrated a “deal” for the customer, did not cripple their business, but also did not tell the shopper that their products were generally always overpriced and uncompetitive.


Instead, these deals enticed the shopper, hooked them onto their ecom store or inside their shop, created a sense of urgency – as they had stuck to the 4 day event rule (no heavy discounts for weeks on end here) and didn’t frustrate the customer with a fat cat mentality and attitude.


And… even better, the indies got to do it again a week later for small business Saturday (1st December). According to American express research £812m was spent last Saturday in small businesses across the UK. Awareness has increased and now 90% of all councils participate and encourage their community of retailers to take part too.


So the difference in spend is vast with Black Friday weekend pulling in £2.4bn (down 5% on 2017) versus £812 million spent during Small Business Saturday (up 8% on 2017)… a huge difference in retail value spend, but, interesting that the spend is increasing on Small Business Saturday versus a decline in Black Friday spend. This could be manipulated by statistics but overall, the feedback and awareness of the consumer is that they ARE wanting to support smaller, more independent businesses, IF they can provide value for money, personal customer service and offer more bespoke, individual products.


So there is much hope for the small, independent retailer, and even more so for the small bricks and mortar shops.


So let’s keep the momentum going for Small Business Saturday and every day of the year.

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