Published on 22 November 2018
Early morning queues, men brawling in supermarkets over flat-screen televisions, and fights erupting about designer handbags.
Welcome to Black Friday 2014.
Fast forward four years and it appears businesses are facing a very different picture. The queues have gone, the hysteria silenced.
But what happened to Black Friday? The discounts are still there and the shops are still advertising, but does anyone really care anymore?
Professor Lawrence Bellamy is Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University of Sunderland. He believes we’re unlikely to see a repeat of the scenes from four years ago for one very simple reason – every day is now Black Friday.
He said: “Retailers are consistently leading with their Black Friday offers at the moment and despite the GDPR introduction your inboxes are probably still filling up with loads of limited time - availability - out of this world offers.
“However the game has changed and arguably every day is becoming a Black Friday opportunity.
“The power in your pocket means that the smart phone nation of the UK (mostly) gives you access to the best deals throughout the year, with quick and easy comparisons.
“You can check, really quickly, against all the competition whether the deal really is that good. As a consumer your information is power. How many people in shops do you now see ‘Googling’ when looking at a major purchase?”
While Black Friday predominately takes place in the US around the Thanksgiving holiday, most UK retailers now also take part. But with variations of the day in existence – this Monday is Cyber Monday – the frenzy around the event seems to have passed.
Perhaps because many retailers extend their deals for longer, over the course of the weekend, the interest has waned, while others are perhaps more sceptical about the day itself.
Professor Bellamy also believes consumers are becoming much more savvy when it comes to what is, and is not, a bargain.
He said: “The old tricks of retailers still prevail. It may be cheaper now, but it was also cheaper before, with a sandwich of more expensive in the middle. Manipulating the perception of the bargain is the key to securing the purchase. The recent Which? report indicated that the majority of items that they tracked were actually cheaper at other times of the year.
“So waiting may be better, particularly with tech products, which tend to fall in price quickly as the next generation approaches.
“With the retail trade under so much pressure and with the impending Christmas period being make or break for some businesses, with a peak in their sales, then they are desperate to secure more expenditure over a longer period. So Black Friday, an import coined from the reference to the day after Thanksgiving in the USA known for sales, should move over and make way for ‘every day bargains’.”