Today is Black Friday. This is something that obviously started in the United States as the sales on the day after Thanksgiving. It makes sense there as it is something that is the equivalent to the UK sales that used to start in the New Year when I was a kid and now start on Boxing Day (or earlier.)
But rather than a genuine sale where retailers get rid of stock they couldn't sell in the run up to Christmas (or Thanksgiving in the US) these are marketing gimmicks that are used to shift goods at the right time. This leads me to ask the question-
Does Black Friday actually exist?
I mean this in the sincerest of senses. Black Friday as a day of sales does not really exist in the United Kingdom. What does exists is two forces that work together to make a great day to sell products for retailers but doesn't do a great deal for customers. We will have a look at the two forces below-
People only have a limited amount of money to spend on Christmas
Now I know that the sentence above might not feel true at times when you watch people leave stores with armfuls of goods day after day from the start of the Christmas season when Halloween finishes right through until closing time on 24th December.But once all the presents are bought for all the people they have to buy for then the vast majority of people stop.
So Black Friday is a great opportunity for retailers to get in there as soon as they can. If they become the first port of call for people when they are making their Christmas gift purchases then they stand a better chance of a bigger slice of the pie. If you leave your Christmas events until the week before the big day then you will end up missing out on all the consumers that bought on Black Friday.
The earlier you get people to spend their money with you then the less chance they have of spending it anywhere else. It makes sense in this way. But when you factor in the other force at play then you can quickly realise that this doesn't necessarily lead to bargains.
What constitutes a sale item
You look at a product. the retailer tells you is used to be at a higher price and you think that you are getting a bargain. That's how it works, isn't it? But many retailers are playing games with consumer at this time of year. For an item to be described as being in a sale it has to have been sold at a higher price for a certain period of time somewhere in that company.
And that is where the games can start. If Company A lists a product for sale on their website at £50 in the summer for that qualifying period of time then they can cut the price for Black Friday and call it a sale. They may have had no intention of selling any at the higher price. The newly-quoted sale price might be exactly what they were always intended to sell it for, but because they have played the game they can call this a sale item and hook customers that might have normally walked past.
So as a consumer, check out the sale prices and see if they represent value to you. If you are a retailer then play straight with customers and stop the games.