Brace yourself! Black Friday beckons
Christmas will soon be with us. Who knew? The TV ads are doing battle to decide which is the cutest, and whether cuteness can convert to the ringing of tills. And that American import – Black Friday – is nearly here, offering pre-Christmas savings for those with an eye for a bargain. Toby Sargent has been looking at how it will work for retailers – and shoppers – in Hastings.
It’s easy to be cynical about Black Friday. Some say this import from the USA is nothing more than a chance for retailers to create an artificial spending frenzy while at the same time shifting masses of stock that they’ve had trouble getting shot of in the previous weeks. Or a desperate attempt to momentarily stem the tide of the online shopping platforms that have been beating them up all year long.
Endless queues and massive sales figures
But the endless queues and massive sales figures suggest that the rough and tumble of a good old-fashioned sale is just the thing for many to polish off at least some of their Christmas shopping before we’ve even got to December. And where’s the harm in that?
So it’s good to receive an announcement from Priory Meadow Shopping Centre in the HOT office, saying that ‘Retailers in Hastings are gearing up for an avalanche of extra shoppers expected to turn out for the November 25 Black Friday sales.’ What’s more, the centre ‘is anticipating crowds as household brands and designer labels slash prices to eye-popping levels.’
Me, I’m only too happy to have my eyes popped. And the centre’s manager, Stacey Bell, says: “There’s a real buzz in the centre at the moment as management teams at virtually all our stores have some red hot discount deals up their sleeves.”
Hang on. We’re only a few lines in and we’ve already had ‘eye-popping levels’ of ‘slashed’ prices, an ‘avalanche’ of shoppers, and ‘red hot discount deals.’
I sense the welcome return of ‘Ludicrous PR hyperbole Bingo,’ the chance for us to mock the poor devil whose weary task it is to write this stuff. And what a rich seam it is.
Reading further we learn of ‘phenomenal deals,’ an ‘irresistible bonus,’ ‘fantastic bargains’ and ‘knock down prices.’ Then there are ‘unbeatable buys’ and a ‘tremendous package of discounts,’ while not forgetting ‘mega-markdowns’ and ‘bumper bargains in the pre-Christmas bonanza.’
Beads of sweat
And you can almost see the beads of sweat forming on the brow of the manager of Carphone Warehouse as he declares: ‘If it’s anything like last year, I know it’s going to be massive!’
Great stuff. But enough of that. The retail sector has had a bad few years since the financial crisis and online shopping, as mentioned above, has made things worse for the shops in the high street throughout the country. Hastings and St Leonards are no exception to this. So it’s good to support retailers wherever and whenever we can.
Last year, UK Black Friday takings in shops and online topped £2 billion within a single 24 hour period and soared to £3.3 billion over a four day sales ‘weekend’.
Air of secrecy
So 25 November will see a series of flash sales in Priory Meadow, some just for that day and others continuing for days thereafter. There’s also an irritating – and I suspect bogus – air of secrecy over what is actually going to be discounted.
For example Tim Hansford, Priory Meadow Shopping Centre branch manager of music and entertainment giant HMV, has promised huge savings across a range of customer favourites, but adds: “I’m not allowed to say what the deals will be at this point but they will be worth turning up for, that’s for sure.”
Thanks for nothing, Tim. It’s all very well to promise ‘phenomenal deals’ or ‘huge savings’ but not everyone has ready access to big sums of cash (especially at the end of the month), so it seems unfair to shoppers not to give them a chance to prepare.
But for those who are prepared to turn up on the day and take their chance, there’s also the opportunity for customers who spend more than £50 in a single store to win prizes dropped in to the Priory Meadow Amazon Lockers on Level 6 of the car park.
Stacey Bell, believes Black Friday now has a huge impact on visitor numbers: “With extended sales periods included under the ‘Black Friday’ umbrella and increasing numbers of stores taking part, it is one of our most important retail events of the year, rivalling Christmas and New Year sales.
“That’s why we want to reward customers who so loyally support us through these events with the chance to take part in our great Lucky Codes competition this year.
“All shoppers who click and collect a parcel at the Priory Shopping Centre’s Amazon Lockers or spend £50 in one store between Friday, 25 November and Friday, 2 December 2016, will receive a special code, which they can then use to try to open a Locker.
“If they get the lucky code for the day, it will automatically open a locker to reveal prizes worth up to £150. There will be hundreds of pounds worth of prizes up for grabs including £100 Priory Meadow gift card, Christmas hampers, jewellery from Ernest Jones, and more.”
As reported in HOT, Priory Meadow Shopping Centre’s popular winter ice rink is also launched on Black Friday evening with an exclusive launch party to add to the merriment.
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