The American shopping extravaganza, known as Black Friday or the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, finally made its way to the UK two years ago and the Brits have been getting on as well as the Americans when it comes to conspicuous consumption.
Black Friday has been widely credited with helping British retailers lift themselves out of a normal November lull; last year; it sparked the biggest retail sales boost in a decade. Shoppers last year spent an estimated £810 million ($1.2 billion) online in a single day. This year, Black Friday is set to be UK’s first £1-billion online shopping day.
Yet one of Britain’s biggest retailers, Asda announced it would not be taken part in Black Friday. Despite the madness that broke out in their shop last year, Asda’s decision to shun Black Friday sales may come as a shock to some. Asda is owned by US retailer Walmart.
Walmart has one of the biggest stakes in Black Friday in America. It forces employees to open shops earlier than other retailers in hopes of maximizing profits and has been widely criticized for its lax health and safety protocols. As a result, Walmart has been plagued with walkouts, boycotts, and civil disobedience from its own members of staff.
The mania that comes with Black Friday is nowhere near as bad as it gets in the US—where workers have been killed—and so perhaps Brits have been somewhat put off. Blue Yonder found that last year, 46% of UK were interesting in finding the best bargain on Black Friday, but this year that number has dropped to 38%. Last year, the event was marred with a number of arrests as shoppers turned violent.
Andy Clarke, CEO of Asda, said that “customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.” Instead, Asda plans to spread its discounts across the season, from the beginning of November into the New Year.
Asda is not alone. British politicians and the boss of rival retailer John Lewis are among a number those who have called on shops to either reign in or completely boycott Black Friday. But other retailers have held their ground, insisting Black Friday is here to stay in UK.