Black Friday - a good deal or not?

black friday

London, 23 December 2016 - So – Black Friday is done and dusted for another year and has become the peak online shopping period of the year, during which customers are driven to retail sites with the expectation of getting access to a host of heavily-discounted products. But do they get the best deal?

A report by Which? presented a challenge to the idea that it is indeed the time of year to get the best bargains. This report tracked the daily prices of 178 products that were promoted as Black Friday deals over a five-month period , revealing that actually only around half (90) were offered at their cheapest rate on Black Friday, the remaining could have been purchased for cheaper at other times during the period covered.

To an extent, the findings of the research are hardly a surprise. Retail prices do go up and down throughout the year after all, in line with supply and demand, the need to stimulate sales activity or the need to clear old stock. Paying ‘full’ price for something only to discover it’s on sale a week later is always a chance you take as a customer. 

But clearly just selling everything at a huge discount is not a sustainable option for many. The overall approach needed to change and in the subsequent two years there has been a trend for retailers to restrict discounts to a product category or range, so the best deals are mixed in with other products available either at full price or smaller discounted rates. Shoppers are inadvertently being told that they don’t necessarily need to wait until Black Friday to get the best deals, they are available throughout the year if shoppers do their research. A bit of suspicion on the part of shoppers is not necessarily a bad thing if you’ve nothing to hide. If people do a bit more digging to ensure they are getting a genuine deal, they are only going to end up buying from those whose claims genuinely represent a good deal, which is a factor very likely to lead to satisfied customers. It has never been in retailers’ interests as a whole for shoppers to think they should shoehorn all their purchases in to the Black Friday period.

Black Friday now doesn’t seem to have the same sense of franticness of 2014, its more stretched out over a longer period, plus retailers have a better understanding of what to plan for. 

But the actual growth for the Black Friday week came in -4% below  forecast – whereas in 2015 the original forecast was exceeded.  Is this a natural progression, where there other factors at play or did the Which? report have an impact on shopper interest this year? It is, of course, impossible to say, but it does at least seem possible that the report findings have already had an impact, and may have a lasting one. 

Since the in-store scuffles in 2014, Black Friday has had a pretty poor reputation. But is also has its fans, a survey in late 2015 found that 31% look favourably on major discount events (such as Black Friday), while 30% look unfavourably; an even split. However shoppers do respond, it is highly likely that media will not forget and remind shoppers in the run-up to Black Friday next year. 

Black Friday’s famous image problem seems set to continue.

For more in depth information, you can read the full article on IMRG