Asda has announced plans to turn its back on Black Friday, a year after the carnage around its price slashes made national news. Is this the right decision, or one that Asda will come to regret?
“Customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales” – Asda’s chief executive Andy Clark stated, as the supermarket giant announced today that it will not be taking part in the Black Friday sales.
Black Friday originated in the US and there have always been grumbles over the UK adopting American holidays. Is this a sign of the British public fighting back against a tradition from across the Atlantic, or are businesses that opt out of the event simply being naïve?
The Black Friday hangover usually consists of reports of horrific scenes in store as people fight tooth and nail for the last HD TV or DVD player. We walk away (or limp away if we braved a store) from the huge shopping day with the behaviour of our fellow shoppers at the forefront of our minds. We talk to our friends about how the day is bringing out the worst in people and encouraging unnecessary spending. Sentiment would suggest that we in the UK do not like the occasion and would rather have good deals available all year round – Asda’s new strategy – so that we can shop in peace.
Perhaps driven by an individual sense of moral superiority, we would like to claim that we will not be drawn into making rash purchases over a 24 hour period just because there is a sale on. Yet, every year we spend more and more on this date, with this forecast growing again for 2015.
In 2014, Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year with £810 million spent; just over half a million pounds every minute. There is no doubt that people are looking for a good deal and it’s ingrained in us that Black Friday is the day to go out and get it. So, if customers are looking for a deal but want to avoid the stampede of browsing in store, they will naturally turn to the website to find what they are looking for.
Businesses can encourage customers to continue shopping – but from the comfort of their own homes – by promoting deals early.
So is Asda right to draw back from the Black Friday hype or is it underestimating the power of a Christmas sale? Only time will tell in this case, but with Black Friday sales increasing every year it certainly seems that, for unprepared businesses with a site that’s not ready for the rush, it may be a tricky Christmas season.