Black Friday in the UK: Retailer activities compared

Date : 24 November 2016

Three years on from Asda bringing Walmart Black Friday to the UK, retailers are deploying learnings from previous experience to create an event that attracts pre-Christmas footfall without disrupting store operations or risking customer disappointment.   Here we round up the activities of the major players.

Tesco: Event extended to 11 days

This year Tesco has broadened its Black Friday event, spreading it over a longer time frame and involving more stores, a move that should improve on-shelf availability and broaden the event's reach to more customers.  Black Friday activity will stretch from November 21st to Thursday 1st on Tesco Direct and over 700 stores will offer promotions from Friday November 25th. Some 650 lines will be on promotion during the Black Friday event, up from 200 items last year. Discounts of up to 50% are being offered on electricals, toys and home lines.

Morrisons: Food and drink focus

Morrisons Black Friday concept builds on its WIGIG promotions offered through the year, but focuses on food and drink lines. Deals include Prosecco and beer kegs for £10, Serrano ham for £32 and whole lobsters. Offers are spread over five days and promoted with the strapline "Black Five days - why wait 'til Friday". Morrisons is also supporting the event with a fuel promotion: Customers spending £50 or more in-store this week will receive a voucher saving them 10p/litre.

Sainsbury's: one day event only

Sainsbury's this year is limiting the event to just the Friday and focusing it on a limited range of electricals. Example products include a Dyson V6 vacuum cleaner for £185 and a 40 inch TV for £150. Deals are advertised online but will only be available from a selection of larger stores. Sister fascia Argos has however spread activity over 13 days, with deals available across technology, toys and domestic appliances.

Asda: not taking part

Like last year, Asda has again chosen not to participate in Black Friday activity this year, still scarred by negative publicity surrounding the frenzy created in some stores in 2014.  To explain its position, Asda's PR team has released a "mannequin challenge"  tongue-in-cheek video featuring 'frozen' colleagues coping with a flash sale. “Last year we said that we were stepping away from Black Friday because, as much as we had developed a well organised and executed event the feedback from our customers was clear that they didn’t want the pressure of a ‘flash sale’ and preferred to know we were offering low prices throughout the festive season,” explained Russell Craig, media relations director for Asda.

High street discounters: opportunity to sell higher ticket items

Poundland is using Black Friday to sell a range of electricals, fragrances and toys, priced well beyond its usual one pound price point. Promoted products online include a Star Wars Loopin Chewin game £5 and a Daewoo Air Fryer for £35. B&M meanwhile promises its biggest ever Black Friday activity with deep discount deals available on the day itself only.