Black Friday is seen by many retailers as one of the biggest selling opportunities of the year. But is a Black Friday sale the right option for your business?
Since it was introduced to the UK by Amazon in 2010, Black Friday has become a much anticipated four-day long retail event, which sees retailers release big offers and discounts to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. This year’s Black Friday falls on November 24th and is likely to be one of the largest ever, particularly for online sales.
But Black Friday is also associated with fuelling hyper-consumerism, irresponsible production and damaging smaller businesses who cannot compete with the discounts on offer from bigger retailers. The notoriety of the sales mean it is not uncommon to see false discounting, and even entire fake stores designed to catch the unsuspecting consumer.
Because of this, some big brands are choosing to opt out of Black Friday altogether, and 85% of independent retailers also boycott the event.
The brands doing Black Friday differently
For a number of years some socially and environmentally conscious brands have been boycotting Black Friday.
IKEA boycotted Black Friday sales last year, saying that they don’t do large sales because they strive to have the most affordable prices possible all year round. In the place of Black Friday, they are favouring their Green Friday initiative, which enables customers to get 50% off new items when returning an old item to the store through the Buyback & Resell scheme.
Patagonia, for example, does not participate in Black Friday in the usual way, instead committing to repairing clothes, buying used, and buying quality to improve sustainability and help tackle the climate crisis. For Black Friday 2011, the brand ran an ad in The New York Times highlighting overconsumption, and in 2016 donated 100% of Black Friday sales to grassroots organizations.
Skincare brand Deciem have opted to close down their website and store for 24 hours each Black Friday. Instead, they have a month-long sale as part of their ‘Slowvember’ campaign, to encourage consumers to take time to consider whether the product is necessary and the right product for them, instead of impulse buying, which can lead to waste.
Despite their hugely popular Boxing Day sale, Next has opted out of Black Friday since 2020. While they’ve never divulged the reason, the general thinking is that it is a push towards sustainability.
So, should your business participate in Black Friday?
Boycotting Black Friday can actually help your business, communicating that you have confidence in the value of your product at full price and, in doing so, building trust with your customers.
However, Black Friday also has many positives: most importantly, sales are a valuable opportunity for consumers to purchase necessary items that are too expensive at full price.
Our advice is do what suits your business best. If you are going to participate in the nation-wide discount extravaganza, consider your offer and why you’re doing it, keeping your customer experience and business values in mind. Make sure you keep in touch with the wider team, including delivery companies, website hosting etc to make sure they’re geared up as well to support your promotion.