Black Friday looms for online retailers

It’s almost Black Friday, and early stats are indicating that this year’s event could be a bumper one for the UK and US retailers!

Black Friday – always the day after Thanksgiving and for many in the UK the final payday before Xmas – has been in operation in America since before the Second World War. It was a single day of big discounts, launched by east-coast retailers in an attempt to kick consumers off their holiday sofas and into the stores which has become a popular (and sometimes dangerous!) tradition in the UK since Amazon introduced it to us Brits four years ago.

Richard Perks, retail analyst at Mintel, says: “It’s an entirely American phenomenon, but it has no resonance over here. You just get a sense that some American executive has thought ‘it’s huge in America, it must be huge over here’.”

Last year was the first time it really took off in Britain, with Asda, owned by the American retail giant Walmart, offering “flash sales” in its stores, encouraging hectic scenes. A man in Bristol was arrested after taking issue with the company’s restriction of just one television purchase per customer.

According to a Visa estimate, spending on Black Friday in the UK for 2014 will be up 22% on last year with £1m spent on it’s cards every three minutes on the day. Some of the biggest retailers in the UK, including Asda, Tesco and Amazon are expecting to cut prices by up to 70% and top Boxing Day sales in 2014. The 24-hour stores will begin selling a minute after midnight, and more staff may be laid on in some areas.

One thing has become clear in the last 12 months – Black Friday may be big, brash and an American tradition, but it is here to stay in the UK, so embrace it online while you can.

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