Black Friday 2014 falls on November 28. If there’s anything black about it’s the feeling your liable to get when you look at next month’s bank statement and discover that your desire to bag a bargain has put you in the red.
We imported Black Friday from the US. It always takes place on the last Friday in November, which has long been the start of Christmas shopping on the other side of the Atlantic and follows on from the spending and consumption that surrounds Thanksgiving.
Black Friday 2014 is a tricksy little marketing device. Under the guise of ‘bargains’ and encouraging us to shop early to avoid disappointment, what it actually does is encourage us to spend under the mesmerising Christmas lights on high street but without necessarily turning on our little grey cells.
What it does is get us into a panic and spook us into thinking that if we don’t grab that bargain right now it will be gone and our Christmas will be a disappoinpment. Rule 1: There will always be more ‘bargains’. Without them shops would go out of business and we would have more money. And Christmas enjoyment has little to do with the size and number of the gifts you buy.
So on Black Friday retailers will offer limited numbers of selected items at apparently attractive prices but for a limited time. Last year this approach triggered riots in some stores.
How Black Friday helps boost high street profits
The illusion of scarcity is a potent trigger and taps into some of our most primitive instincts. Our cave dwelling ancestors survived by making the most of any available food source. But what worked for a bush full of berries breaks down when applied to consumer durables, many of which are bought on credit and therefore far removed from any notion of physical survival. From a marketers perspective, artifically enforced scarcity can heighten demand as well as encouraging people to buy more, sooner and more quickly. In effect stores will be encouraging consumers to speed spend.
This year UK retailers are, if anything, piling on the illusory pressure. Owned by Wal-Mart stores Inc. in the US, Asda’s television ad campaign shows a countdown in hours, minutes and seconds and narrated by a tough-sounding American voice. The promise is of ever bigger bargains. Tick, tick. Tick, tick. Supermarkets, Amazon, department stores and good old Marks & Spencer have all joined in.
When reality kicks in
We reckon that Black Friday is followed by Thud of Reality Saturday, when you suddenly come to and realise you have spent more money than you should on goods you don’t need and aren’t even sure you want.
High street shops will usually state on the receipt how long you have to return the item for a full refund – no questions asked (assuming you haven’t trashed the packaging). But this is down to good will. High street shops don’t have to accept returns unless an item is faulty, not ‘as described’ or is ‘unfit for purpose’. Check out terms and conditions before you buy.
If you really don’t want your ‘bargain’, take it back. If its not defective you may have to argue your case for a refund or credit note but that’s got to be better than living with your mistake.
You have additional right when you buy online and we’ll deal with these when we tackle Cyber Monday, which this year falls on December 1 by our reckoning.