The annual Sales promotion is merely part of a phenomenon that’s been ongoing for the whole of the autumn.
Almost every piece of retail news this week will be in the queue behind Black Friday.
Well, Black Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and beyond to Cyber Monday, actually, as retailers fall over themselves to slash margins at a time when profits are under pressure.
Indeed, it might as well be Black Autumn as far as many retailers are concerned.
The red pen has been applied to stock since September, when there were signs in the windows indicating markdowns.
The effect on the shops will be to create an unholy and wholly unseasonal mess
The effect has in fact been pretty limited on in-store vistas, largely because the markdowns involved were sprats to catch mackerel – there weren’t many of them – and the big banners were about getting people through the doors in the hope that they might actually buy something.
The truth is that if you happen to be in fashion, this doesn’t seem to have worked.
Against this backdrop, Black Friday runs the risk of becoming promotional white noise – the January Sales brought forward by a month and half.
All of which is fine if you happen to be an online merchant and re-merchandising the site involves pushing a few buttons and then sitting back and waiting to see if increased volume cancels out decreased margin.
It still seems odd to slash prices at a time when full margin is almost achievable
For stores, with Christmas visual merchandising just unveiled, Black Friday brings the risk of taking the eye off the ball solely because other retailers are piling in too.
For a moment, retail will be about discounting, rather than Christmas, and while this will certainly have been factored in, the effect on the shops will be to create an unholy and wholly unseasonal mess.
Fashion takes a back seat
An online piece in the Telegraph on Saturday noted that fashion has not actually featured strongly as part of Black Friday, but that “experts” expect more clothing retailers to take part this year.
Maybe so, but this will purely be about it having been a bad season for fab gear.
Fashion is under the cosh and fashion retailers offering Black Friday bargains are clutching at straws and looking at hitting profit in a different way to that which they have been doing for months.
Perhaps Black Friday is here to stay, but it still seems odd to slash prices at a time when full margin is almost achievable.
For Christmas shoppers, presents have to be bought whatever the price and shifting the discount calendar around equates to poor-looking shops and profit erosion. Perhaps somebody can explain why.