Debate: Black Friday- Good or bad for the Industry?

Debate: Black Friday- Good or bad for the Industry?

Good – Sunetra Chakravarti, editor, Mobile Choice

I remember trying to buy a box set of Disney movies last year at 2:30am online. When asked why by a slightly bewildered other-half, my answer was – because it was reduced. I didn't really need them, having watched the movies dozens of times and not having the space to keep my guilty bulk-buy. But buy I did.

 

Buyers remorse aside, Black Friday is a great way of getting consumers to remember that Christmas is (almost) around the corner and that they need to start getting their wallets out. And if they miss buying on Friday, most sales now extend to Monday (Cyber Monday) and sometimes to Tuesday!

 

Sales bonanzas can affect buying patterns but Boxing Day sales haven't put people off buying presents before Christmas. Indeed, it makes customers buy more because of the deep discounts they want to take advantage of.

 

This year, Carphone Warehouse revealed that  it achieved ‘record-breaking’ Black Friday sales, selling one pay monthly contract every three seconds. The retailer also felt the effects of the increase in online shopping, reporting that website traffic increased by 78% from the previous year.

 

For retailers, shopping dates such as Black Friday help silo buying periods, with three distinct ones now identified: Black Friday weekend, peak season all the way through to Christmas Eve, and then Boxing Day sales.

 

With 9% of all Brits buying their Christmas presents during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it can only be a good thing. Right?

 

Bad – Jack Courtez, news editor, Mobile

Forget flying reindeer, the biggest Christmas myth is that Black Friday increases consumer spending over the period. Research by YouGov shows that the amount families are spending is actually decreasing from £822 in 2013 to just £796 in 2015. Therefore reducing prices in sales promotions beforehand does nothing more than reduce margins, and makes price the only differentiator.

 

The result is a market that favours online, especially affiliate marketing and Amazon, and by providing a cut of any sales to these middlemen rather than their direct channels, networks are reducing their potential earnings and damaging their reputation as being the first point of contact for anything mobile.

 

This damage to reputation also occurs in-store, as all the work that retailers have put into improving their customer service is made moot over Black Friday, as overloaded shop staff (especially with complex sales such as those in phone shops where it may take more than half an hour to help a single customer) despite valiant efforts, are unable to give customers the quality of service they expect. Coupled with research showing that verbal abuse of shop staff increases 66% on Black Friday, and the increased workloads, targets and working hours store staff already face for the period, not only is Black Friday to the detriment of a retailer’s profits and reputation it’s also to the detriment of their staff.

 

Unfortunately, Black Friday shows no sign of stopping, with each retailer and manufacturer compelled to take part for fear of their rival grabbing their chunk of that family budget in the event, making Black Friday an innately reactive marketing event that prevents companies from playing to their own strengths.

 

 

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