Black Friday 2015 UK: After Asda pulled out of the big deals day, will it fade to grey?

Aaron Shields
Unpopular Santa
There's no Christmas joy to be had from Black Friday (Source: Getty)

Asda’s decision to opt-out of the US-imported shopping holiday begs one question: Could this be Britain’s last Black Friday?

With high-street retailers like Primark and Oasis also deciding to pull out of the Black Friday race, this is a huge sign that perhaps this one-day shopping bonanza could be abandoned by the majority of the British high-street. And why wouldn’t it be?

There’s no denying consumers are privy to some great deals on Black Friday, but is there a lasting commercial case for retailers to participate in the US-imported shopping holiday?

The answer is clearly no, as the occasion simply drives shoppers to open their wallets earlier, but not necessarily deeper.

Read more: Why Black Friday is too unprofitable to last

Yes, sales do spike on Black Friday, delivering the illusion of success, but then, according to statistics from Visa, the majority of retailers see a dip in sales in the lead up to Christmas and fail to meet their overall targets.

In fact, only Amazon-like retailers come out on top in the Black Friday weekend.

Amazon introduced Black Friday to the UK five years ago, and 84 per cent of shoppers say they’ll do their Black Friday shopping with them this year. Maybe it should be called Amazon Friday?

Another big reason for smart retailers to opt out of Black Friday is that by slashing prices they risk damaging their brands and reputations by trying to act like discount stores. As other retailers try to beat the internet giant at its own game, they will ultimately lose more money in a discounter’s race to the bottom, eroding their margins and their brand equity in the process.

Even big retailers in the US, where the shopping holiday was born, are choosing not to partake in what’s become a frenzied shopping day. REI are shutting their 140 store across the US on Black Friday and encouraging their staff and customers to spend time outdoors with their families. Their strategy is all about keeping employees happy for long-term sustainable advantage.

We predict Britain’s Black Friday will be watered down to grey and become the domain of the discounters - turning into just another sales day in the run-up to Christmas.

The shopper wants and deserves a deal, but discounting is only one way that people enjoy Christmas shopping.

People want to see their children’s eyes light up when they see toys in store, they want to be inspired with new products, they need to get great gift ideas and they want to make filling that list easy. The Black Friday experience does not include any of these Christmas joys.

Shoppers might benefit from Black Friday sales, but retailers are robbing Christmas sales and margins to pay for Black Friday participation. The experiment has nearly run its course from this artificial US shopping holiday.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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