What food retailers can learn from the Black Friday boycott

26 November 2021, 07:00 AM
  • The anti-Black-Friday messages are growing louder this year, and there’s a positive takeaway for fine food independents
What food retailers can learn from the Black Friday boycott

Only in recent years have UK businesses joined in the American sales bonanza that is Black Friday. However, just as the event gains traction on this side of the pond, many independent retailers are taking a stand against it.

This year, up to 85% of independent sellers will not participate in Black Friday, marking the highest number of retailers boycotting the event ever recorded, according to Bira.

“The main reasons for them not wanting to take part in this is because they either don’t agree with this idea, there are higher prices, and there is also insufficient volume to make the large discounting work,” said Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO. “They also need to preserve their margins. This coupled with many of our independents experiencing supply chain issues has proved to be a real challenge.”

While many of Bira’s members who were surveyed will be non-food retailers, the consumer response to their boycott will be an important dynamic for fine food retailers to keep an eye on. As will the rise of anti-Black-Friday events like Slowvember. Slowvember is a discount event gaining steam in the beauty world which offers month-long sales as an alternative to high-pressured Black Friday discounts. As the beauty brand Deciem explains on its website, “For the month of November, we will focus on bringing soothing experiences, creating moments of calm, and allowing space for the appreciation of small things.”

Consumer sentiment turns against Black Friday

It appears that more shoppers are moving away from Black Friday sales, too. According to research by Finder, Brits plan to spend an estimated £4.8bn on Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases this year, which is lower than the amount recorded in 2020 (£6bn) and 2019 (£5.6bn).

What’s more, a recent survey showed that nearly two-thirds of all shoppers are intending to boycott Black Friday this year. With more consumers focused on sustainability and supporting small businesses, independent business directory and marketplace Shopli found that the anti-Black-Friday movement is growing.

“The pandemic has changed how the UK public now shop and the majority of shoppers don’t just want discounts and deals,” said Lee Nathan, CEO of Shopli and regional chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). “Independent businesses can offer alternatives and so much more than discounts such as truly unique, more sustainable and locally sourced products, and this speaks to consumers values more than a quick saving from a huge faceless brand.”

While footfall at UK retail destinations is expected to rise by as much as 19% on Black Friday, the reaction to the day of discounts this year is yet another signal that consumers are keen to support local businesses and that they are motivated by issues like sustainability and provenance. For fine food retailers, the news couldn’t be more welcome.

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