Black Friday – market gimmick or act of goodwill from the retailers?

Is Black Friday the one day that retailers, in an act of holiday goodwill acts for your benefit? Or is a duplicitous market gimmick where, at best, you will save $15 on a TV brand that did not exist three weeks ago? According to a study conducted by consumer watchdog Which?, the latter is true. The report found that 49% of 2015 Black Friday deals in the UK were cheaper at other points in the year. Which? tracked prices for 178 items across multiple major retailers like Currys, John Lewis, Amazon and Argos for three months before Black Friday 2015.

The issue is that that the retailers were purporting to offer huger discounts, when in fact items had not been the higher ‘was’ price for months or even years. These ‘deals’ effectively boil down to ‘this item was more expensive when it first launched two years ago’. It’s perhaps no surprise that Black Friday – in the UK at least – isn’t all it’s purported to be.

What should have given the game away is that Black Friday is not a tradition in the UK. It’s a recent marketing invention that seems to have imported all the madness of people fighting, genuinely actually fighting with fists, over a Kenwood two-slice toaster, from the US but with fewer of the decent deals. Black Friday deals – and sales in general – should always be taken with a pinch of salt. The issue is that that the retailers were purporting to offer huger discounts, when in fact items had not been the higher ‘was’ price for months or even years. As Which? explains.

“Currys listed the LG 43UF680V TV at £449 (‘was £899’) on Black Friday, but this apparently stonking saving wasn’t worth the virtual paper it was written on, as it hadn’t sold the TV at £899 since the August before. The TV was going for a considerably more modest £499 from late August until early October – so this should’ve been the ‘was price’ instead.

In another case, AO listed the Bosch Series 6 WAT28460GB washing machine as £399 (‘was £529’) on Black Friday. Its website said that the washing machine had been sold at £529 for 19 days – but during 2014.”


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