There was nothing special about this Friday, no public holiday, no cause for celebration, but for many it was the biggest shopping day of the year.
It was expected that approximately ¾ of Black Friday spending in Europe would come from the UK, a shocking statistic considering the UK population is just 13% of that of Europe’s. Originally an American event taking place the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has been a part of the UK Christmas Shopping scene since 2013. Despite only being around for a short time, retailers have noticed a serious dip in sales in the run up to Black Friday, prompting many to extend their promotions into a Black Friday Week. Only in its third year, Black Friday is fast becoming a source of contention among retailers and shoppers alike. Whilst there are those that love to score a deal, needed or not, to the extent that fights broke out in the aisles of super markets last year, others are realising that serious price cuts do come with a cost.
Perhaps the most noticable turnaround on Black Friday this year comes from Asda. Despite being the ones to bring Black Friday to the UK, Asda has decided not to take part in this year’s event, deciding instead to invest in savings spread throughout the season rather than on one day of sales. A bold move for the supermarket, but not one that was taken alone. Many retailers turned their backs on Black Friday, some offering percentages of profits taken on the day to charity, others intentionally keep their products at full price.
With retail analysts predicting £1bn being spent on Black Friday, Traidcraft’s campaign ‘Just Friday’ promoted the notion that if just 1% of that total was spent on ethical and Fair Trade organisations, thousands of people’s lives could be improved. People Tree teamed up with Traidcraft and Divine Chocolate to turn Black Friday into ‘Just Friday’. Although they still discounted their collections, their message was one of thinking twice before purchasing, and, if shopping over the weekend, to shop ethically.
Fat Face was another retailer to take a slightly different approach to Black Friday, adopting a ‘Thanks for Giving’ campaign. Their shops and head office choose charities local to them and pledged to give up to £250,000 to their chosen charities.
Everlane, another company using the Black Friday weekend to make charitable donations, pledged to give 35% of each order to enrich the lives of their workers. Last year they donated their profits to their factory in China, this year they’re turning their attention a little closer to home and using the money to help those at their LA factory. They’ll be using their profits to create a wellness programme which will include free doctor visits, groceries and English lessons.
Jigsaw are taking a different stand against consumer led promotions and launched their Black Friday campaign by promoting their pricing policy. Adopting a punchy and powerful slogan, “reduced by nothing, standing for something”, they released a statement explain the reason behind the pricing of their collections. According to Jigsaw, their garments are designed with the product in mind, not the price. Fabrics, factories and workers are chosen for their quality, and it’s these factors that dictate the garment’s true price. They have sales twice a year at the end of each season, ensuring their prices always ‘stand for something’.
Companies this year had predicted profit warnings ahead of Black Friday weekend events. Slashing prices drives customers to stores and online, pushing retailers to staff up, increasing the wage bill and spreading any earnings over the weekend extremely thinly. To protect profit margins and keep prices low, products must be made as cheaply as possible by using poor supply chains and fabrics that have a detrimental effect on our environment.
So ahead of Cyber Monday tomorrow, stop and think before you shop. Ask yourself if you really need it, shop with a company with strong ethical values and don’t let it be another manic Monday.