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Asda may rue Black Friday call

By Donald C McFetridge

Published 13/11/2015

Chaotic scenes in Asda last year as crowds of frantic shoppers jostle for bargains
Chaotic scenes in Asda last year as crowds of frantic shoppers jostle for bargains

It's two weeks today until 'Black Friday' - the day when retailers who have experienced poor trading up until now will hopefully move from the red into the black. Or so the story goes.

Friday, November 27 is a red letter day for many consumers keen to snap up bargains as the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off.

This year, Asda has decided not to participate in the Black Friday event - claiming it is responding to the needs of its customers.

Some claim Asda has taken this decision on the back of the fact that, last year, there were scenes of mild chaos in some of its stores as customers scrambled to pick up one-day-only offers.

Special, heavily-discounted widescreen televisions caused more than their fair share of problems for in-store security when customers were physically vying with each other in order to snap up bargains.

I would argue that Asda is making a very big mistake here. Yes, I'm all for listening and responding positively to customer demand. But the fact remains that it could be potentially losing out on its share of the £1bn projected to be spent on Black Friday.

If special offers are available from other retailers, customers will most certainly shop elsewhere - not only restricting the amount of money changing hands in Asda outlets, but reducing footfall in its stores across the country.

This is something it does not want to happen in a market where the Big Four retailers are constantly cutting each others' throats for market share.

The concept of Black Friday (which originated in the United States) has become a phenomenon in the retail world in the UK and there are large numbers of consumers keen to see the tradition continue.

I would respectfully suggest that UK retailers wait until the concept is no longer working in the US before they start removing it from their retail calendars.

However, at the end of the day, consumers only have a certain amount of money to spend. Whether or not they spend it on Black Friday, or during the lead-up to Christmas, is very much a matter of consumer choice.

But at least they should have the choice.

  • Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at the Ulster University Business School

Belfast Telegraph

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