As the dust settles on another Black Friday, some in the industry will be left wondering whether all the hype is worth it.
This year the US-inspired extravaganza attracted more publicity than ever, with the wider media salivating over the eye-catching deals in the run-up to the event.
As one industry source told me: “This is a period of time when PR teams tend to go into overdrive. The hype is ludicrous.”
Amazon’s tactics, as ever, have been interesting. The etail giant ran a 12-day spectacular, then launched a ‘Cyber Deals’ Week.
So, in effect, Amazon will have been running Black Friday-based deals for 19 days.
All of this begs the question: is giving shoppers such a long period to snap up bargains counter-productive? Is it not taking away from the uniqueness of Black Friday as a 24-hour Sales bonanza?
Figures tracking the event suggest this. Online sales across the industry rose 6.7% on the day, which was a marked slowdown on the 31% surge last year, according to Springboard.
And the death of Black Friday as a bricks-and-mortar event appears to have been exaggerated. According to Springboard, overall footfall was up 2% on Black Friday year-on-year.
All of this will pose more questions for how to approach the event next year and how it will look.
Some notable industry names – John Lewis, Dixons Carphone and Shop Direct – all remain heavily involved in Black Friday. John Lewis reported its biggest-ever trading week in the week of Black Friday this year.
Shop Direct boss Alex Baldock is a particular fan of the event, as he argues that it brings record-breaking sales and helps attract new customers.
“As Shop Direct boss Alex Baldock explains, customers are now used to Black Friday and, he believes, will not want to give it up”
As Baldock explains in this issue of Retail Week, customers are now used to Black Friday and, he believes, will not want to give it up.
He admits that it brings “operational challenges” but says they are worth it as it is profitable for the etailer.
Others, such as Fat Face boss Anthony Thompson, argue it is bad for the industry as it destroys margins and creates a dangerous discounting drug.
There will undoubtedly by many in the industry who agree with Thompson but have not broken cover.
Unfortunately for them, Black Friday – albeit in an evolving state – appears to be here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The fallout from BHS’s collapse continues to have reverberations.
Under new government plans, private companies could be forced to adopt the same standards as publicly listed companies – including publishing directors’ pay and performance.
It is a bid by Theresa May to tackle the “irresponsible minority” of private firms.
The move on pay is likely to raise eyebrows in some retail boardrooms.
However, it is another chance for the industry to highlight the meritocratic nature of the sector – where many bosses have climbed the ranks from the shopfloor to the boardroom.