Is Black Friday damaging for independent retailers?

It’s has only been a few years since UK customers were first exposed to the American shopping tradition of Black Friday. Across the other side of the pond, retailers expertly whip customers into a frenzy over clearance deals promoted far and wide to kick start the Christmas shopping season.

By now we’ve all seen US TV footage of near-crazed customers, falling over themselves like growling zombies trying to fling their arms around a 50” plasma TV – which we’re quite sure nobody would consider balancing on their heads under normal circumstances. This year, the trend has well and truly landed on our shores and for all the record-breaking sales claimed by everyone from Amazon to Tesco, we can’t help but think that there are aspects of Black Friday that could make the UK retail industry look bad.

Firstly there is the overall bad impression a loyal customer could get of a store they either know, trust or rely on. Seeing footage of a cage match in your favourite store with behaviour that resembles a montage of shoving moments from The Jeremy Kyle Show isn’t good for any brand.

Secondly, websites that fail or slow down are trading increased traffic for decreased credibility. For full disclosure, we emailed out a Black Friday sale offer to our customers, knowing as the leading packaging website in the UK, that we would handle the maximum traffic and sales uplift. Our security, servers and support team have been designed to handle busy Christmas trading year after year (although most of our customers had already picked up their Christmas packaging in the weeks prior). With us, our website performance is one of our greatest strengths and simply not something we would risk a bad customer experience on.

And finally, although not every retailer partakes in Black Friday, negative press makes everyone look bad. Thousands of boutique and independent retailers buy packaging from Carrier Bag Shop and every week come up with creative ways to invite customers into their store. From jewellery retailers that email their customers free pictures of them trying on different items, to cafes that always offer a sampling tray before lunch; our customers regularly increase sales just by thinking outside the box, turning any Friday into a Black Friday .

Having such a large customer base, we have great examples of retail done right and many of our customers do Black Friday brilliantly by ensuring a consistent retail experience, with an added bargain attached for the day. A lot of this also stems from the heightened commitment a local or independent retailer makes to its customers, many of whom the staff see several time a week.

What are your thoughts? Did you take part in Black Friday and how was it for you? Either leave us a comment below or tweet @CarrierBagShop with the hashtag #BlackFriday and we’ll try to share your suggestions.

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