Black Friday has become a day that defines big retail sales and discount prices across an endless amount of businesses throughout multiple countries.
We’ve all seen the horror show that is Black Friday in the USA, with people trampling over one another to get their hands on a television, or breaking out into fist fights over a discounted toaster.
While it generally seems to be more civilised over here in the UK, things can still get out of hand and quite ridiculous at times. This year however, may be quite different, largely due to the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Physical retailers for instance will not be allowed to open during Black Friday and therefore a much larger amount of time will be spent concentrating on the online counterparts to many businesses. What does this mean for high street shops and businesses that rely on offline seasonal sales during the UK lockdown? By reading on you should have a much clearer understanding of the answers to those questions.
What is Black Friday?
Before we get into all things business-related, let’s take a look into the history of Black Friday. For those of you that are unaware, Black Friday is vastly different in the present day to what is was and what it represented in the past.
Black Friday was commonly known as the day following Thanksgiving in America. The term apparently originated in Philadelphia, where it was used by police to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicular traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. More than twenty years later, as the phrase became more commonly used to describe the mad rush of shoppers on this day. A popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black”.
The big day will take place Friday November 27th this year, but for obvious reasons it will feel very different for all involved.
The digital way of thinking
Black Friday will be an online event this year, there is no doubt about it. It’s the only option for this yearly ‘celebration’ to take place in 2020. The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have made it impossible for retailers to remain open during this time in the UK, and it is likely to be a very good thing when it comes to Black Friday, in regards to people’s health. The crazy influx of footfall and shoppers roaming malls and high streets across the country would have likely still happened, as people would have convinced themselves that it would have been worth the risk in order to get those great deals and tick a few items off their Christmas shopping lists.
There is no questioning the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has lead people to conducting more online shopping, rather than focusing their spending on physical retail premises and items. The UK lockdown kept us locked indoors for a matter of months and with no other option, shoppers moved online and during the months of April, May and June of this year, retailers reported a significant surge in e-commerce sales.
In fact, retailer giant Amazon stated that their sales soared by a huge 40%. This is further proof that when a level of uncertainty hits the public, they’d rather act safely and spend their hard-earned cash online.
The customer outlook – Black Friday during COVID-19
Black Friday 2020 will be completely digitised; this is simply the only way it can go forward this year. Though, you needn’t worry about this from a customer perspective, as it may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Think about the positives, if you’re someone that goes crazy for these annual sales, this year you won’t have to spend hours queuing up in line, you won’t be in a physical battle with other shoppers to get the best items and you won’t have to rush out of your house to make those Christmas-saving purchases.
Customers ma well be faced with some online waiting queues this year, but from past experience we’re all mostly aware that these don’t often last long. Retailers want to maximise their sales and therefore, they want you to be able to access their websites. Businesses are very keenly aware that Christmas shopping starts here for many people in the UK, and this is why many companies have optimised their respective webpages this year, due to an expected increase in online traffic over previous years.
The product trends of Black Friday 2020
The one thing this year’s Black Friday shopping events will have in common with previous years is that certain products will prove to be far more popular than others. Shoppers will no doubt be desperate to get their hands on new tech at discount prices. Even the smallest discounts will be largely appreciated by those that have struggled financially this year because of COVID-19. Buying Christmas presents for children and other loved ones, or just simply treating yourself at the end of a tough year, people have plenty of reasons to be stoked about the upcoming retail sales.
The product trends of Black Friday 2020 look set to be based around tech items. Flashy new gadgets such as upcoming gaming consoles like Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X, as well as Apple MacBook laptops and the new iPhone are all high up on the list of expected profit pushers. Home appliances are always an area of increased sales around this time of year also, including vacuum cleaners, coffee machines and more.
Black Friday sales 2021
Black Friday 2021 is almost upon us and things should work differently this time around compared to the sales of 2020. Here’s a list of how it’ll stack up compared to last year’s massive retail event:
First and foremost, there are less COVID-19 restrictions on members of the British public right now compared to last year. Thus, Black Friday 2021 will be an event that can be enjoyed by people more freely. As this has been an event that people missed out on previously, it is likely to witness a large resurgence, meaning that this could be the most successful retail event in quite some years in the UK.
Footfall on the rise
Footfall is set to be up by 80.9% compared to last year during Black Friday, so you can expect to bump into far more shoppers this time around. Not only that, but if you run a physical retail business, such as a high street shop, you’ll be in luck and likely sell many more items during the event than you were able to last year.
This is obviously because pandemic restrictions were in full effect last year, and people are generally more comfortable with going out and spending cash in stores once again.
The situation has changed
Black Friday lands on 26 November 2021, and it is set to be a huge deal this year. Yet, while the event will be massive this year, it’s likewise going to likely be very different, too.
The greatest contrast, obviously, is that the UK aren’t experiencing as severely COVID-19 as this time compared with the year before. Shops are open to the public, nothing’s locked down (right now) and no one’s panic buying webcams to work remotely and communicate via Zoom call.
Certain products will be tough to find
Seemingly the greatest issue around Black Friday 2021 is the worldwide semiconductor shortage. That influences everything from vehicles to PCs: while the car industry has been the hardest hit, the deficiency has likewise impacted a wide range of purchaser hardware – PCs as well as things, for example, electric toothbrushes and tumble dryers as well. If a product has chips in it, and nowadays essentially everything does, its producer will have been facing difficulties to get the parts at the right cost in adequate volumes.
Prior to COVID-19, microprocessor producers were battling to adapt to request and issues including fires, power issues, and a huge drought in Taiwan that left chip creators without the water that is a vital piece of chip fabricating. Shortly after this, Coronavirus hit. Numerous industrial facilities shut down completely while request went through the roof since we were all bored and locked inside our homes.
This sort of thing is highly difficult to anticipate. Many manufacturers have allocated the parts they do have to their most in-demand items and deferred development of less significant models, so for instance Samsung did that with a portion of its showcases recently.
This is one reason why Sony has been battling to make enough PlayStation 5s, and it’s likewise decreased the stock of OLED TVs, both of which will be in high demand this coming Black Friday.
The online effect
The shift from face to face to internet shopping was in full swing before COVID lockdowns, and that pattern will proceed – not least on the grounds that regardless of vaccination programs, COVID hasn’t disappeared. The trend of online shopping isn’t something that is about to fall away, so business owners should work hard to develop internet strategies of their own.
In any case, there’s an issue with online retail as well: online sales are higher than ever, and a few firms are now struggling to adapt; in the UK, the truck driver shortage that is leaving supermarket shelves empty is probably going to influence Black Friday shopping as well. If the stock isn’t there to be sold, it cannot be purchased, it is as simple as that.
The event will be come longer
This trend seems to have been forming for some years now, but each year Black Friday seems to go on for a little bit longer than the last. This is because retailers want to capitalise on sales for more than just a single day. Take this year for example, we have seen offers cropping up right from the very beginning of November. Therefore, the event is lasting an entire month in some places rather than just a day as it was originally intended.
Look who’s beating the rush this year
Amazon Black Friday deals have started early this year in preparation for the main event on 27th November, though they aren’t the only business to get in on the act at this prior stage. Currys PC World have also taken a stance of getting into the mind of the consumer early this year and are hoping to capitalise on an early sales boost before the rest of the competition arrives at the end of the month. This was a trend that was to be expected in 2020, as businesses are in a more competitive mind set than ever before, so getting yourself ahead of the other competing companies within your industry will be essential to your levels of success this year.
As a small or independent business owner, you should never be afraid of looking to larger corporations and industry giants in order to gain inspiration. You’d likely be surprised how studying businesses that you view as much bigger than your own can actually help you out along the way, through multiple avenues of business growth and development. With this in mind, by viewing how the likes of Amazon, amongst others, are boarding the Black Friday retail train early this year, you’ll likely see how their business strategies and tactics can be applied to a venture of your own.
You need to remember that every business idea starts off small, even those that have developed into huge organisations. The truth is that all firms were once mere sketches on a piece of paper, much like yours would have been at the start, back when you were developing your original business plan. This means that if you see a particularly achievable strategy being deployed by a much larger company, there’s no reason you can’t go after it yourself.
You’ll have to consider scalability for sure, but in many cases this won’t a factor that completely excludes you, regardless of your smaller overall business size. If you believe that having an extra week or two worth of sales could help to boost your business, especially this year, during the time of a crisis, then feel free to follow in the footsteps of the businesses you look up to. If there’s a profit to be made, getting in on the Christmas retail sales early may just be the perfect way to find it.
Bold moves that may seem like a risk, such as reducing product prices and providing promotional sales for longer periods than originally planned, are often worth trialling at least once. Besides, these sorts of marketing strategies around holiday times and events (Black Friday for example) can be monumental when it comes to businesses finding their own growth and developments.
Black Friday to be another business blow or the making of a company comeback?
Black Friday often marks the beginning of a business-saving time of year for many venture owners across the UK, it is the start of something magical for them: The Christmas shopping period. While those businesses that have no online counterpart or identity to speak of will likely be rushing to get things going in time to take advantage of this year’s Black Friday sales figures, those with an online presence will be gladly welcoming of the event. Taking things to a level that is relatable for smaller businesses, such as independent ventures and local shops, we have all been able to spend more time trying to figure out how to make more of an impact online. Many of us have simply had to act in this way in order to keep our businesses alive and fighting for survival, while others have realised that in today’s society, there’s more chance of success within the online world.
This is certainly the case for the business venture that are hopeful to take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, as they will most certainly be a big saving grace for the companies that are struggling financially at the hands of COVID-19
Our advice to you
Our advice for shoppers would be to start getting hold of deals as quickly as possible this year and avoid the mad rush on November 26th. This will help you to avoid the disappointment of limited stock and halted deliveries, as well as keeping you out of the way of the madness of the retail event itself.
For retailers, our advice would be to get your marketing hats on and start advertising some of your biggest offers that you’ll be promoting. If you want your shelves to be emptied, come the 27th, then you need to entice customers and encourage them to part way with their cash. Good luck with making as much profit as possible this Black Friday!