Black Friday 2022 will take place on November 25. Time will tell what affect the coronavirus will have on this year’s sales. However, as inflation rises, many predict it will be an important sales event for holiday shoppers looking for discounts. Either way, many consider Black Friday to be one of the best-selling days of the year, and therefore an opportunity for shops. However, this massive shopping event also has its downsides.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why you should take part in Black Friday and some of the reasons why you might want to reconsider.
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Black Friday first emerged in the US, marking the end of Thanksgiving by seeing a massive amount of discounts both in local stores and in online shops. As Thanksgiving always takes place on Thursday, many Americans have a 4-day weekend for the holiday. This day off on Friday was the perfect day to entice consumers into shops as it also marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
The Black Friday sales event then expanded to include “Cyber Monday” as a way to increase online sales. As more and more shopping is done online, many Black Friday sales have shifted online now anyway, making Cyber Monday somewhat obsolete.
Singles' Day Marketing Ideas for the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year
In any case, the holiday has become immensely popular in the US. That popularity has expanded around the globe in recent years. It has essentially become standard in many European countries.
If we look at the UK, retail sales explode during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Compared to the eight weeks preceding the event, sales jumping up by over 300% in many product categories.
In Italy, a 2021 survey revealed that the biggest group of Italian respondents (30%) had planned on spending between 251-500 Euros on Black Friday alone.
Expanding on this, German online shoppers have become accustomed to the discounts on Black Friday as well. It appears that more and more German shoppers plan to do much of their holiday spending on Black Friday. Take note of how many more people planned to spend more than 500 Euros on Black Friday in 2021 compared to 2020.
In the Netherlands, we can confirm that Black Friday has practically turned into “Black November” with shops beginning their sales well before the traditional start date. In any case, the consumer’s expectations are definitely there, so the pressure is high to offer good deals.
Black Friday also affords smaller shops an opportunity to win over new customers. In France, for example, consumers were asked why they might try a new online shop on Black Friday. Clearly, the savings opportunities inspire consumers to try out new shops. It’s worth noting that customer reviews also played an important role in these reasons (26%):
Finally, when we look around the globe, consumer spending on Black Friday is pretty much guaranteed. In the following major markets across the globe, more than half of the consumers surveyed revealed that they were at least somewhat likely to make an online purchase on Black Friday. In many of those countries, the Very likely crowd unnumbered the Somewhat likely respondents.
Who doesn't prefer to buy gifts on days when products are on sale? It’s clear that offering great discounts around the Christmas season is an easy way to attract many shoppers and intensify business sales.
In 2021, US consumers alone spent nearly $9 billion online on Black Friday. In 2019, shoppers worldwide spent $717.5 billion during Black Friday. Clearly, the potential is there.
However, not all businesses benefit from this situation. For SMEs, Black Friday could mean a threat.
Competing against larger companies and multinationals offering large discounts could result in your business being in the red.
In addition, on days as busy as Black Friday, more staff is needed to provide good customer service, and this would simultaneously mean more (personnel) costs.
If you are to participate and offer lower prices, be aware of the possible risks that may come along (more on that soon).
The other option would be to stay out of the game completely. Some companies have already realised that these types of discounts aren’t profitable and just not worth it.
Meuf Paris, for example, a French online shop, has published this post on its Instagram account explaining the reasons why the company no longer wishes to participate in Black Friday.
Source: Meuf Paris
The shop explains that it isn’t possible for them to both act according to their ethics and fulfill the purpose of Black Friday. Their French-produced items containing 100% organic cotton carry high production costs that just don’t work with the massive Black Friday price cuts.
In fact, in 2020, many businesses cancelled their Black Friday promotion plans altogether. However, this varied from country to country.
In the UK, for example, more than half of respondents (55.4%) said that they would continue with their plans or increase their investment into the sale. France saw similar numbers as well (52%). However, the other countries surveyed were below the half-way mark (although Italy comes pretty close!).
While we’re on this side of the debate, it’s worth talking about the other ugly side of Black Friday and the holiday season in general: returns!
Given the great discounts and the convenience of being able to shop from any internet-capable device, consumers tend to buy more than necessary on Black Friday.
However, and as a result of impulsive purchases, the more orders you get, the more returns you are likely to get.
The reasons for returns can be various: the product doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations, the size is wrong, the customer bought the product due to the low price even knowing that they are going to return it anyway.
The increase in returns is also due to the fact that many businesses extend the right of withdrawal during Black Friday and during the Christmas season. In this way, they facilitate returns for buyers, allowing them to return Christmas gifts even in February.
Here, once again, you should take this issue into account and act accordingly to avoid a negative impact on the development of your business.
💡Tip: If you integrate a rating system in your online shop combined with quality product images, your customers will have a better idea of the product they are buying and, consequently, your return rate will decrease.
Did you know that returns not only have an impact on business development, but also on the environment?
Let’s look at one last reason to reconsider your online shop’s participation in Black Friday:
In 2019, European post offices delivered record volumes of Black Friday/Cyber Monday orders, CEP research found.
On the one hand, this shows the accelerated development of the logistics sector during those important days, but on the other hand, the massive need to consume and buy that occurs during Black Friday has a great impact on the environment.
However, in order to meet the massive demands of this season, a lot of cardboard and plastic containers are needed. This requires the production of natural resources and/or raw materials.
According to the Guardian, the shopping event sees about 82,000 diesel delivery vans on UK streets, carrying items like plastic toys and electronic goods around.
Stephen Holgate, professor of immunopharmacology at the UK Medical Research Council said: “These vans sit and idle for hours in the road as they wait to deliver more packages, and this is a huge problem.”
In recent years, the fashion sector has multiplied its production, going from producing two seasons to producing more than six. Many of these "fast-fashion" brands offer new items and trends every two months to consumers who throw away their clothes after having worn them just a handful of times.
To combat the pollution generated by the fashion market, movements such as the "no buy year" have emerged that encourage consumers not to buy clothes for a year and, therefore, not to shop just for the sake of shopping.
There are already some brands that even reduced their business activities during Black Friday. For example, the sports equipment brand, REI, has closed its shops every Black Friday since 2015.
They give their employees the day off and encourage them and their customers to spend the day in nature instead of hanging around in shopping centres. They've even created their own #OptOutside campaign.
Of course, not all the companies can afford this type of action since it would mean giving up the day with the highest income of the year.
For this reason, more and more small and sustainable businesses are joining “Green Friday”, an alternative movement to Black Friday. This movement aims to make consumers aware of the fact that alternative forms of consumption are possible and thus the negative impact on the environment and the climate can be reduced..
According to a Nielsen study, 66% of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands.
Recommended reading: What Steps Can Your Business Take to Go Green?
So, if you’ve decided to proceed with running a Black Friday Sale, we’ve got some tips for you to consider:
It has been proven that during the boom in e-commerce caused by the pandemic, many online businesses had to increase their stock of products to avoid possible breaks in the supply chain.
Taking into account the shopping trends that are expected for this last quarter, I recommend you also to check your stock from time to time and, if necessary, increase it in the face of a possible wave of new online orders.
Now more than ever, companies must make an effort in offering consumers an omni-channel shopping experience at each shopping stage, allowing customers to make their choices in accordance with their needs.
In 2020, UK shoppers in the post-lock down period were surveyed about their Christmas shopping habits. About half of the consumers who normally would shop in-store shifted their habits to click-and-collect.
Offer your customers accurate information about the availability of your products, your opening hours, and the health and safety policies.
50% of consumers who plan to make purchases this Christmas say they will choose to buy in local shops that offer contactless payments or a completely contactless shopping experience.
Give your website a responsive design
71% of Black Friday shoppers in the UK made their purchase from a mobile device in 2019 and this trend is expected to continue this year.
Having a responsive website for your online shop not only favors the shopping experience of your customers, but it will also make your sales multiply that day. In addition, Google penalises those shops that aren’t responsive, so you already have two good reasons to adapt your online shop if you haven’t done so already.
To end this section, it’s worth noting that Black Friday presents an opportunity for all types of businesses, whether large or small: clearing out what’s left in stock.
In this sense, businesses could offer great discounts on products that haven’t been sold that much lately in order to minimise the number of unsold items.
Black Friday is not only an opportunity for doing more business, but it’s also an event that could have a significant impact on the survival of some brands.
Also, more and more consumers around the world are becoming more aware of the environmental damage caused by Black Friday. I wouldn’t really be surprised if the sustainable alternative Green Friday movement grows even more popular in the future.
In view of the data mentioned in this article and the purchasing trends expected for this year, it’s now your turn to process all this information and decide whether your online shop should participate in Black Friday or not!
Black Friday isn't the only sales opportunity for online shop owners. If you sell internationally, make sure to download our European Holidays Marketing Calendar to get an overview of the biggest sales opportunities in the biggest European markets.
This article was originally published on our Spanish blog: Black Friday: ventajas, desventajas y consejos para negocios