Over the past ten years, shopping has undergone a dramatic change, triggered by the rise of online shopping, discount retailers and out of town retail parks.
In 2013, Asda, which is owned by American retail giant Walmart, participated in the UK’s version of Black Friday, with most of the major retailers such as Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Argos taking part.
Since then, Black Friday has become almost as ingrained into our collective shopping culture as it is in the US, with a great deal of hype surrounding limited quantity special deals and loss leaders which can offer up to 80% off retail prices. Shoppers flock to the stores or to make online purchases, where the hope is that they buy full price items in addition to discounted merchandise.
The Centre for Retail Research estimates online spending on Black Friday to be close to £966m, with total Black Friday sales (including in stores) reaching £1.39bn.
So what does this mean for small town markets like Harborough?
It certainly doesn’t make things easy that’s for sure.
Some trader’s feel that Black Friday may offer that one day stimulus to the high street, but they lose out as a consequence as they simply can’t compete with the public’s perception of what constitutes a bargain. Prices and mark ups are as keen as they can be at Harborough Market, and indeed on most markets. Traders keep their margins so low in order to compete on a day to day basis that they can’t cut them any lower.
Graham Aitken of The Wee Bazaar has a 6 day unit selling Turkish lamps and lanterns at Harborough Market.
“Our prices are the lowest in the UK, and that’s every day, not just for one day a year! We have seen the same products as ours for three times as much on the High Street. Shoppers need to be a bit savvier and recognise that good value can be found every day on their local market.”
John Cleaver of Selvey & Co Jewellers echoed Graham’s comments.
“It’s Black Friday every day at Harborough Market. We offer good value, high quality items every day. Quietly and with no fuss or fanfare, just getting on with it and offering prices that keep customers coming back time after time.”
It’s frustrating that footfall may well be driven out of town into the neighboring cities of Leicester or Kettering or that shoppers spend the day online. Frustrating that Black Friday can have an impact on the rest of December with shoppers doing the majority of spending on that one day, but if you are tempted to give in to this American tradition, consider your options.
Will you really get a good deal? How much time do you want to spend in traffic, in queues at the stores or trying to check out online to find everything in your basket is unavailable if the site has crashed?
Maybe you can find a better bargain right here on your doorstep, every day of the week.