We went from Black Friday to Black November, but this year I’d say we’re having a Black Autumn. There has been a constant stream of discounts since September. This is particularly true in fashion, where a combination of unseasonably warm weather and cost-of-living pressures have really dampened demand. Yes, people are hungry for bargains, but they have to be genuine ones. Shoppers have become desensitised to all of the “20% off everything” sales. Blanket discounting is causing promotion fatigue.
The appeal of Black Friday has also been diluted because shoppers have cottoned on to the fact that it is a manufactured event and prices are not always at their lowest. Black Friday is designed to drive impulse purchases and instil a sense of FOMO. But according to Which?, only one in seven Black Friday deals offer a genuine discount.
Electricals is typically an exception here, as retailers have more margin to play with, but this category is likely to underwhelm this year. Consumers spent the pandemic kitting out their home offices and entertainment spaces so demand for new technology will be much weaker than normal.
Meanwhile the World Cup – and particularly the timing of tonight’s England vs USA match – will also add to the Black Friday fizzle. Retailers are likely to extend the discounting into the weekend, as Friday night celebrations keep people from shopping.
I’d also like to think that there has been a deep societal shift, as more and more shoppers reject the idea of excess consumerism. Let’s face it, Black Friday is gluttonous. It’s wasteful. It drives up returns and millions of products ultimately end up in landfill.
Despite all of this, shoppers will be out in full force today, sussing out the deals but in a more restrained manner compared to previous years. Black Friday will be less frenzied, more focused. Big-ticket purchases will be more considered and this year, more than ever, shoppers will be utilising the technology in their back pockets to check prices and ensure they’re getting a bona fide bargain.
There will inevitably be those that get caught up in the adrenaline-filled rush of Black Friday shopping. Buyer’s remorse will be strong this year, and retailers should be preparing for a mountain of returns.