Sunday, April 18News For London

Why has a cold chill blasted UK’s Black Friday?

Black Friday conjures up images of hordes of customers pushing through shop doors to fight for bargains. But this year, many stores remained nearly empty as the holiday-shopping season kicked off.

I went to St. George’s, the big shopping mall in Harrow, and found it seemed no more busy than usual. Is Black Friday not attractive now?

St. George’s in Harrow, England. (Photo: Star Tang)

Mohammad Hussain, security guard of St. George’s, said: “People are getting used to Black Friday and starting to realize Black Friday is not what they think it is. I guess that’s why this year there are less people here compared to last year. Last year was slightly busier because Black Friday is a little newer then.”

Trick or Treat?

Shoppers who go to physical stores were not attracted by promotions, but just buy what they need as usual. Surprisingly, most of the public have the same idea about Black Friday.

Stores in Harrow. (Photo: Star Tang)

You wait until Black Friday to buy clothes you have long expected. You are so happy because you have made a wise choice to get what you want with discounts. After one week, you check the price again but find the original price of the products is the same as that when you bought them. The bad experience of waiting for bargains means customers do not regard Black Friday as a treat but a trick.

Tina, a retailer in St. George’s said: “ ‘Loss leader’ is a very important trick in the retail business.” She explained that sellers were willing to make a loss, offering a discount on one product, because it could lead customers to the shop to buy more.

Mohammad said he had seen how retailers work to stimulate impulse buying, so personally he would not shop on Black Friday.

Online Shopping

Apart from people’s new understanding of Black Friday, the rise in online shopping has also caused brick-and-mortar stores to become less popular on that day.

Although face-to-face spending is expected to decline for the third consecutive year, online sales are forecast to take a record share of this year’s Christmas spending, according to Visa’s UK consumer spending report released on 20 November. It is anticipated that almost £2 in every £5 will be spent online during the November/December period.

Online spending share of Christmas spending. (Image: IHS Markit on behalf of Visa)

Visa’s survey shows 63% of online shoppers think the flexibility of shopping on the go is the attraction of online shopping, especially using a mobile phone.

Not only the convenience of clicking at home to get all you want, but access to comparing prices and reviews before buying have made online shopping more appealing. Nina, shopper, said: “I often check original prices online a few weeks before Black Friday, and then I compare deals on different websites on that day.”

More and more British customers are rethinking the meaning of Black Friday, and shopping online in order to compare prices, which reflects the fact that their purchasing habits are becoming more rational and prudent.