Christmas Creep has started early again this year, with the infamous Black Friday approaching at the end of the week. The supermarkets have put out their Christmas adverts a few weeks ago, the first of which may well have been in October to our reckoning and Strictly and the Jungle are hitting the half-way point. Yes, November is nearing the end but we want to put our foot down and tell you why we believe Black Friday is one of the biggest killers of small business in the UK.
The Origins of Black Friday
There is nothing new in the term Black Friday, early mentions of the phrase are atrributed to the Philadelphia Police force on the day after Thanksgiving in the 60’s.
The terms “Black Friday” and “Black Saturday” came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season.
What is wrong with Black Friday?
We have nothing against a little bit of pre-Christmas shopping and understand that of course sales are a part of life in retail, that is not what we object to. Our problem is two-fold: The way Black Friday has become a month long extravaganza of nothing new and it is mostly driven by giants like Amazon and Ebay. Not only that but these sales don’t actually deliver much value, with a report today from consumer champion “Which” suggests that only one in twenty Black Friday deals are cheaper than at other times of the year.
What do we mean by a month long extravaganza? If you walked into Tesco Mobile at the start of the month you would see that they are promoting phones on Black Friday offers for the entire month. Amazon started their Black Friday offers last week, Currys and John Lewis also started their offerings at the start of last week (that is two weeks before Black Friday). No doubt Amazon will keep it going for a while longer, not just because Monday is Cyber Monday of course but because people fall for it every time. This may all sound a bit Baah Humbug, but we think we have a point and it is the effect Black Friday has on the little guy that upsets us.
How does Black Friday effect the small business?
You are no doubt aware of the phrase “if you can’t beat them join them.” Well, never has this been more of a killer phrase for the small business, trader or self-employed than at this time of the year. For the majority of shoppers their world over the next week will be dominated by what looks like fantastic offers from the likes of Amazon and other high street giants, so why shouldn’t the one-man-band be joining in and offering discounts on their precious products. Can they afford not to be part of the crush? Why not ask a small trader what they think of Black Friday, what does it do to their bottom line, the value of their products and their self-esteem.
How it works with Amazon and small traders
When Amazon is gearing up for Black Friday they are looking to offer the best deals across the board to their customers. Of course, they are, but how do they go about it and who takes the big hit on the pricing. Amazon makes a few bits and pieces but what they really do is like us at Designed in Dorset is to provide a platform from which sellers can promote their goods to a new audience. When they want to offer a promotion they can either reduce the price they charge to customers and lose out on commission or they can ask the vendor for more of a discount. As you can imagine they have already bartered for the best price possible from the vendor and are now asking for more. When you factor in referral fees, per item fees, shipping refunds that don’t cover the cost of your own shipping, closing fees and even FBA then it all adds up to squashing a much-needed margin. If you have ever wondered why the majority of items on sale on Black Friday are plastic tat then here’s one reason.
What about the Environment?
Aren’t we meant to be saving the planet right now? You only have to open your eyes to the amount of waste you produce at home to realise we have too much of everything already. We don’t know about you but a lot of the planet’s problems are to do with over-consumption, part of which is a result of cheap single-use items. Black Friday in our humble opinion exacerbates the problem by offering so much more for so much less. A lot of shoppers confess to buying on Black Friday because they are convinced it is a good deal, when if they did the research as Which suggests they would soon understand they don’t actually need the item, they have been brainwashed by a Black Friday offer.
What about Designed in Dorset?
You may be wondering why we are having this poke at the likes of Black Friday and big consumerism in general when we ourselves are a marketplace. We firmly believe in the little guy and helping small businesses thrive in a tough economy and market. This is why we don’t take a commission on shipping and include the credit card charges in our commission. We won’t ask vendors to reduce their margin to enable us to make more money. We want to encourage local shopping with low delivery mileage to help the environment. Our vendors make quality products using locally sourced materials meaning they are better for the environment and will last longer, reducing waste in the long term. If you agree with us, then why not join in the fun and shop from Designed in Dorset.