Indies boycott Black Friday

US import’s ‘negative impact’ sees small retailers find ways to do good instead


The majority of indie retailers are all set to defy the Black Friday sales frenzy for the third year running as many believe the US import has a negative effect on the High Street.

A survey by the British Independent Retailers’ Association has revealed 86% of indies won’t be taking part in the mega sales event that traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States as it’s the first Friday after the country’s Thanksgiving celebrations.

Above & top: The frenzy and greed of Black Friday sales isn’t for indie retailers
Above & top: The frenzy and greed of Black Friday sales isn’t for indie retailers

With British big retailers having joined in the, 69% of BIRA’s respondents said Black Friday – which is on 24 November this year but lasts through to Cyber Monday on 27 November, created to encourage people to shop online – had a “negative impact” on the High Street, and 67% have never taken part anyway.

BIRA, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, ran the survey to showcase the resolute commitment of indies to stand against the Black Friday tradition, citing concerns about the dominance of large retailers and e-commerce giants.

Sarah Laker is one of the indie greeting and gift retailers to refuse to join in the frenzied price-dropping antics, instead choosing to help others through her two Stationery Supplies stores in Marple and Wilmslow.

“Every day of every week we give friendly, knowledgeable service with fair, honest prices,” she explained, “so, in 2017, I decided that rather than indulge in discount shopping mayhem of Black Friday, which really doesn’t sit well with me, I’d give back instead.”

Having previously supported local food banks Moors For The Future and the Wood Street Mission, this year Sarah is helping the Family Nurse Partnership support young mums aged 19 and under after the organisation asked if she could assist a young mum-to-be who loves art but had no drawing materials.

Above: Sarah Laker prefers to help the community, like this year’s appeal for young mums
Above: Sarah Laker prefers to help the community, like this year’s appeal for young mums

Both stores now have a box on the counter to received donations of new and unopened chocolates or make-up/toiletry sets which will be passed on to the partnership to gift to the women after the drive finishes on 30 November.

Publisher and online retailer Ohh Deer is also stepping up to turn black into green with various offers all this week for its own Green Friday initiative to plant 10,000 mangrove trees through Eden Reforestation Projects, and ngo that works in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation – and the company has kickstarted the plan by pledging 2,023 trees.

“With many shoppers waiting for Black Friday to purchase their Christmas cards and gifts, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to give back to the planet while still providing you with great offers,” Ohh Deer’s head of customer experience Alex Turner said.

While there’s a year-round offer of one tree being planted every time a customer shops three-for-two on greeting cards while logged in to their Ohh Deer account, this week there are different flash deals each day, running through to Sunday, 26 November, including one tree for each £5 spent, three trees for £10 in sales, and 10 for each £20 order on the B2C website.

Comments from some of those who took part in BIRA’s survey included:

“Black Friday epitomises the poor retail management of the multiples and High Street stores who feel the need to constantly discount and, in turn, are looking for cheaper and poorer quality product to satisfy margin.”

Above: Ohh Deer is turning black into green by planting mangrove trees
Above: Ohh Deer is turning black into green by planting mangrove trees

“Black Friday has very negative connotations. We would rather celebrate great independent shops by promoting our independence of choice and true savings, rather than blindly follow what is in effect an American import too far.”

“I would prefer to have a genuine early sale in the shop to loyal and regular customers.”

And BIRA ceo Andrew Goodacre said: “The results speak for themselves, that this has been consistent from our independent traders for the past three years – back then 85% said they would not be taking part – and no doubt it will continue.

“It’s not about our shops lacking competitive pricing, but rather a strategic move to support the High Street and foster economic growth for all.

Above: BIRA’s Andrew Goodacre
Above: BIRA’s Andrew Goodacre

“From an indie retail perspective, Black Friday is seen as a big business, internet event. This makes it very hard for smaller retailers to compete, lacking the buying power of larger counterparts. In general, independent retailers do not see Black Friday as an opportunity.”

Many indie artists and creatives are taking part in Just A Card’s Indie Week, which runs through to Friday, 24 November, and is the colourful independent online retail alternative to Black Friday bringing together the community to shout about the importance of valuing and buying from artists, makers, individual shops and small businesses during the crucial Christmas period.

BIRA also recently held the nationwide #LoveYourHighStreetWeek to help celebrate and champion local communities to support their High Streets and independent retail.

Andrew added, “Our independent retailers really are the beating heart of Britain, as they can offer so much more than prices that seem low but perhaps aren’t as good a deal as they at first appear. Our traders can give an array of goods, from everyday essentials to unique, one-of-a-kind finds and we want people to support that.”

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