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Brits reject Black Friday – is there hope for us?

The U.K. has attempted to introduce Black Friday shopping to its masses, but after 3 years and a negative response, they might be scrapping the idea.


black friday shopping

No Thanksgiving, no Black Friday

The U.K. is already opting out of Black Friday, after just three short years of participating in the chaotic holiday sales event. While this holiday is looked forward to by most in America, it certainly hasn’t caught on overseas.

“Black Friday exists in the States for a good reason,” said Richard Perks, director of retail research at analyst firm Mintel. “In the U.K., it’s just a normal working day; it doesn’t have any resonance or any logic in this country.”


The craze fell short

Just three short years ago Walmart umbrella store Asda started the American Black Friday craze over in the U.K. This year they are not participating in the traditionally American concept because the concept is not catching on across the pond. Asda is both a supermarket and a retail store, and last year its electrical goods sales were high, but its core business sales numbers were dismal.

Majority of U.K. doesn’t care about the sales

An audience-insight poll performed by Instantly of 1,500 U.K. consumers gives a rare look into the thought process of the everyday shopper. 84% said Black Friday sales would have no effect on their holiday shopping. 36% don’t even think that Black Friday is a good idea! A measly 18% of U.K. shoppers said they were going to gird their loins and shop the sales.

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Shoppers would prefer discounts through holidays

Many retailers are listening to the 36% of shoppers who don’t think Black Friday is a good concept. Asda learned from its customers that they would rather have discounts throughout holiday season, instead of one single day of sales. They plan to implement that concept this year, and abandon Black Friday sales in the U.K.

Other stores are still giving Black Friday a chance, but in a more relaxed way. For example, retailer Tesco is running sales but is not opening until 5 a.m., instead of at midnight.

Markdowns actually hurt sales, and customers

Unfortunately for those who are pro-Black Friday in the U.K., last year’s madness led to enough chaos and violence that it drew the attention of parliament and police departments. Both have discouraged store owners and managers from participating in Black Friday sales as they caused violence in stores and aren’t actually helping store sales numbers in the long run.

This year’s sales estimates are around £1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) for Friday. However, huge markdowns for one day actually hurt sales on the profit margins for the rest of the season.

Damage limitation

“The big problem is that the majority of retailers aren’t discounting ordinary merchandise but bringing in special stock,” said Perks. “The story so far is that it’s been successful in sales but unsuccessful in profit. The strategy now has to be one of damage limitation.”

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Staff Writer, Abigail White is a wordsmith who hails from the Deep South, having graduated with a degree in Journalism from Auburn University. She is usually reading three books at once, loves history, sarcasm, and arguing over the Oxford comma.

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