How Black Friday went from being one day to a full month of temptation

Black Friday. One day, which became a long weekend, and now for many brands has morphed into a month-long event.

This coming week, inboxes will be galore with offers, discount codes, pre-sale access links, and special sign up pages for those who want exclusive deals.

But even before this, offers have been trickling in from November 1.

Beauty company Deciem for example, this year introduced ‘slowvember’, which means their 23% saving has been running and will continue to for the entire month in a bid to make shoppers purchase items more mindfully rather than in a rush.

The brand say: ‘Slowvember is a month for the thinkers, the researchers. The people who appreciate taking the time to pause and reflect before making a decision,’ adding it ‘offers a human approach to discounting’.

While their intentions are rooted in responsible shopping, this won’t be the case for all companies rolling out early Black Friday deals.

Christina Herbach, an expert on retail trends at Landor & Fitch, tells us: ‘Unfortunately, there’s an element of self-fulfilling prophecy for brands and retailers.

‘As consumers get spooked by reports [on stock and product availability], they will want to wrap up holiday shopping early regardless of actual supply.

‘That means that even those brands and retailers who are well positioned must feature sales early to get in on the action.’

So why else did Black Friday change and get an extension?

It’s not all self-fulfilling, rather practical, as Christina says the pandemic is partly to blame in why more brands are launching their sales early out of necessity and changing buyer habits.

‘Last year retailers started Black Friday deals as early as October in a bid to avoid densely populated stores, for fear they could be shut during the peak season due to pandemic lockdowns,’ she says.

‘This year, lockdown fears have diminished but concerns about inventory availability remain high – there’s a sense that “arriving just-in-time” might now just miss the mark.

‘By extending Black Friday, retailers are hoping to smooth out in-store demand and online orders, easing pressure on shipping and supply chains.’

Data from both TopCashback and Mention Me predict that fashion and beauty are the top categories people are targeting this year – though they were less popular last year given lockdown, with home items the favoured thing to splash (or save) on.

Mention Me believe the public will spend 5% more overall in sales than they did last year.

But is that partly due to there being more opportunity, or time, to shop online?

Caroline Plumer, founder and psychotherapist at CPPC London, says: ‘If shopping is our weak point, Black Friday week or month may open us up to spending more money than we normally would, if there is an extended period of time to dwell.

‘Having more time to look back at items that are a “want” than “need” could make it more tempting to spend, when perhaps we might have showed better willpower with less chances to revisit offers.’

There is a case for having more time to make use of the sale period though, as she adds: ‘The advantage of longer sales seasons is that they don’t usually create the same level of impulse purchasing that the pressure of a flash sale does.

‘If we see something encouraging us to buy now or miss out, we are more inclined to jump on that deal without questioning whether we really want or need the item or whether it may be cheaper elsewhere even if it’s not on sale.’

This might, for some shoppers, allow them the space to contemplate better.

How to exercise self-control if early deals are tempting you

Caroline Plumer advises: ‘If you are tempted to treat yourself, try sleeping on it – if you’ve completely forgotten about the purchase the next day, you probably don’t really want or need it.

‘If you find yourself still coveting it, do make sure to shop around for the best deal and ideally for every item you buy, donate or sell something you already own – realistically how many coats/trainers/bags do you need?

‘It can also be helpful to remind yourself how many hours work said item is going to cost you and weigh up if it feels worth it. 

‘Make a list of what you want prior to the sales and trying to stick to it.

‘I’d also check the prices prior to Black Friday deals going live to be sure you really are getting a bargain.’

Will it change our shopping habits?

Christina thinks so, though the emphasis for shopping will still be on November 26.

She says: ‘If we look at Kickstarter campaigns, most orders come through immediately upon launch and then again on the last day of the campaign.

‘Both initial hype and a last-minute sense of scarcity motivate action. But in between, we can expect a lot of procrastination.

‘By stretching Black Friday from a day to a month, we’re likely to see a similar horseshoe shape of sales – peak in the beginning, followed by a lull, and then a peak at the end.’

While both company and personal responsibility is always needed on Black Friday, perhaps a certain level more is required to get through the extra-long sales.

It’s possible that more brands will jump on this changing trend in Black Friday sales to come.

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