Retailers’ Guide to Black Friday 2015

Assosia Ltd

The busiest day of the year, for shoppers as well as for the retailers, is almost here. The clocks are ticking fast and anxious buyers are gearing up to throng their favorite retailers (or the cheapest?) in the wee hours of the Black Friday. On the other side, the retailers are having the busiest week of the year as they are scurrying to prepare for the big day – in terms of rolling out the best deals that pull the largest crowds and handling hordes of super-charged shopping enthusiasts.


It’s interesting to note that Black Friday originated in the U.S during the 1960’s when retailers designated it as the start of holiday shopping season.Black Friday Article - Nov 2015 This was in aid of luring consumers into starting their shopping extravaganza with large in-store discounts. With Briton’s sweet tooth for ballistic shopping, Black Friday swooped the nation’s heart. Amazon pioneered this move in 2010. Three years later, Asda joined the band and rolled out its range of deals on this day. After that, all U.K retailers jumped in and now it is becoming bigger every year. According to The Mirror, £810 million was spent last year which was a 100% jump from the year before that. As being predicted by industry experts, U.K will spend at least £1 billion during this year’s Black Friday sales and that is being stated as a conservative figure because British shopaholics are breaking their own records, every year. The customers flocking to Black Friday sales have been on a spending spree. According to The Bristol Post, every British shopper will spend an average amount of £132 on this Black Friday.

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There’s another interesting thing that is unfolding on the run up to this year’s Black Friday. A substantial percentage of consumers are trying to avoid the chaos that we saw last year. Shoppers this year are planning to lurk on online stores and click their way to great deals. A number of polls have reported this trend so it will be of prime importance for retailers to pay special attention to their online stores.

Since the Black Friday discounts are very attractive and, on top of that, offered for a very short period of time, it is natural to predict that the tension to get the best bargain will be high – in fact on the rise. In response to the discounts that are being offered by the retailers, people are literally going berserk and are showing no signs of slowing down. We have seen several untoward occasions in a number of countries where scuffles broke out between shoppers just to get their hands on the best deals especially on electronic items – and this has happened not only in the U.S. Last year, national news channels splashed footage of fights that broke out in Tesco and Asda’s stores and customers were seen fighting for LED TVs which brought a bad name to the store and the consequences of adopting this U.S tradition were discussion at length. The situation reached a boiling point at night and police had to be called in to maintain law and order at the stores. This was not just limited to the brick and mortar stores. Even the online sales were ‘attacked’ by digital shoppers and several large stores reported a very sharp surge in traffic. A few stores also reported crashed websites due to the sheer volume of consumer traffic on Black Friday.

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Having these factors in mind, it is very important for the retailers to go back to the drawing board and chalk up strategies that end up earning them the maximum profits but not at the cost of their brand image or their employees’ wellbeing. When there is a blockbuster sale with limited stock, only a few customers get to take benefit of such deals. In this case, rest of the shoppers, who have failed to get their favourite deals are more likely to develop a negative sentiment towards that store. Owing to such issues, some retailers, like Asda, are pulling out of Black Friday. These retailers are moving towards pricing strategies that will offer the same amounts of discount but the range of items and the time of these sales is being spread out over several weeks up to the Christmas. This is a win-win for both the parties as the stores can rake in more profits by selling a wider range of items whereas the customers can avail those offers more conveniently. Aldi has also recently announced its plans to simply not participate in this race to the bottom. On the other hand, other large retailers like Amazon, Argos and John Lewis are prepping up to open their doors wide to let in as many shoppers as they can and offer sales that will definitely give the savvy shoppers an adrenaline rush.

There a number of considerations that are laid down here for the small to medium retailers so that they can cash in on this opportunity and make some good bucks in the process:

  • While Black Friday is all about knocking down prices and offering the best deals in town, it is wise to monitor your key competitors in order to establish true reference points. Many retailers make the mistake of matching the deals being offered by the big shots like Argos and Amazon and end up feeling the brunt for months to come.
  • In order to outrun rivals, retailers will have to keep a close eye on the competitors’ deals and prices and counter their moves. To do this effectively, professional data analytics services can be hired that have specialised systems to provide live updates that will help in making timely business decisions such as adjusting prices.
  • In order to occupy a premium slot in the consumers’ minds, it is imperative to integrate all the Black Friday marketing messages across all platforms including print, mobile and website. Special efforts invested in online stores can pay off really well since more and more shoppers are heading to their laptops and mobile phones to make their Black Friday purchases.
  • This is the time to fight for position and that cannot be done by being modest. Reach out to your customers aggressively and make your presence be felt clearly.
  • Before opening your doors to jittery hordes of shoppers, it is a good idea to plan the store space meticulously, in advance. This planning will include the optimum use of space and placement decisions of merchandise on sale. All these efforts will ensure that customers have convenient access to their required items and of course, to avoid bottlenecks that surely end up in scuffles between the uber-energised shoppers.
  • To avoid any unpleasant incident, stores will have to arrange sufficient staff on hand. A special briefing can be arranged for the staff to educate them with the right procedures for handling problematic situations.
  • If the sale is on the store’s website as well, it is recommended to audit the website’s resources beforehand to make sure that the website is able to uphold more than the expected traffic and activity.



These are some suggestions that can help small and medium retail stores to not only survive this fierce competition bout, but also make healthy profits out of this shopping season.

Retail stores should stay abreast of the latest trends and consumers’ preferences in order to make it big this year. Regardless of how well-prepared retailers are for hosting the upcoming shopping madness, customers are looking ferocious this season. Stores need to keep their calm and put all their efforts in planning a smooth ride for their customers, as well as for themselves.