In recent years, Black Friday has established itself as a kind of Christmas season super weekend that just seems to be expanding in every direction. Now, one Friday may be replaced by a nearly two-week sub-campaign that some expect as the moon rises and others resent it. Is Black Friday good or bad now?
From the perspective of so-called shopping hysteria, I don’t really know how to see the difference between mall campaigns, crazy days, fall sub-campaigns and Black Friday. All are discount campaigns designed to get you to buy as much as possible, also creating stimuli you didn’t know you needed.
I believe that even during Black Friday, many people can still shop responsibly and thoughtfully, and they may have been planned for a longer period of time. Herein lies a worsening structural problem in the clothing trade, not just over-consumption but under-pricing.
Discount even earlier
Originally, the purpose of the discount sales was to sell off the rest of the stock at the end of the season. Autumn and winter clothes and Christmas gifts have been sold during the season, which culminated in the Christmas season. After this, the remaining individual pieces etc. have been sold out of stock at a discount, after Christmas. Thus, the clothes have had a normal-priced sales season and the discount sales have acted as a stock cleaner at the end of the season.
This idea has long been obscured by the constantly advancing discount sales, which are no longer a matter of stock replenishment, but of fierce competition for market share. Whoever starts a discount sale first gets a head start on their own sub-products.
Now Black Friday has once again brought a huge leap forward in discount sale time by many weeks and that is why it is so compelling for businesses. For many companies, the Christmas season is the most important time of the year and when Black Friday has brought a huge price competition to the start of the Christmas season, there is no room to be left out of the competition. So Black Friday has broken through so many industries and formed a huge general discount campaign. Many industries for which Christmas has not even been a particularly significant season before also want their share of customers' purchases.
New normal from the discount
In the clothing store, Black Friday sales are significantly different from “old-fashioned” discount sales. Sales do not consist of any stock rips, on the contrary, the stores are fully loaded and the range is at its peak to maximize sales. The customer can choose from the best of all products, with a good discount. This poses a significant problem for the clothing trade: the normal-priced season for clothing remains very short and an increasing proportion of the fully current selection is sold at a discount. In other words; regardless of the guide prices, the clothes are sold on average only cheaper.
When campaigning so drastically for the best selling time of the year, in addition to the seasonal discounts and cruises held along the way, the impact on the profitability of the trade is significant. Thus, the pressure to sell even more volume and produce clothing at even cheaper prices is increasing.
However, price competition has already led to the fact that even normal-priced clothes are largely far too cheap in terms of how much work is done for them and how much natural resources are consumed in their manufacture.
Clothes are already too cheap
As for Black Friday, a lot of attention has been paid to the fact that it feeds shopping hysteria and increases reckless buying. Personally, however, I am concerned that even buyers who are considering will focus their long-term purchases on Black Friday because the discount offer is so wide. Almost anything on the shopping list can be purchased on Black Friday at a discount. This, of course, sounds like good news, and it makes sense at the individual level in the short term. Taken as a whole, however, this is a worrying trend in terms of price developments in the sector as a whole, and thus in terms of environmental impact and labor.
While many seem to have a perception that a clothing store collects high margins instead of payroll, for example, few clothing stores can afford to sell a large portion of their stock at a 20%, 30%, or 40% discount. After all, big discounts are out of the entire production chain. The equation that we always buy cheaply, but still pay a good wage to the perpetrators and take care of environmental friendliness by all means, is not realistic. The cheap price does not allow all this.
In order for the clothing trade to have even the theoretical potential to operate ecologically and ethically, consumers have to pay more for clothing. Sorry, but true.
While Black Friday is not to blame for the problems of the entire clothing industry and consumption, it is part of the problem of fierce price competition. Nothing would be very problematic if we had unlimited natural resources and unlimited cheap labor. We do not have one and there should not be another.
We cannot really blame consumers for taking up offers. It is also difficult to blame companies for competing for their existence.
However, Black Friday in its current scope is already provoking reactions. I have to admit that the weeks before Black Friday have already felt a heavy burden of communication for me this year. Although the topic is already a little tiring, it is also the best sign of change. It is no longer all to set off to offer discounts and run after them, but to be questioned more. The more the other values are on display; quality, sustainability, ecology and ethics, the more confident we will gradually be able to turn the course in a more sustainable direction.
Black Friday has served as inspiration, for example Circular Mondaywhich is not only 23.11. celebrate Circular Economy Day, now also a multi-country service bank bringing together services to promote the circular economy.
Yesterday, a new platform for responsible services was also launched in Finland buy responsibly.fi, the selection of which has been curated by an independent accountability panel. There is a demand for alternatives and with it there are also countermeasures to an unsustainable situation as such.
Of course, Upcycler is not immune to the market situation or competition any more than any other. Without adequate sales, one cannot function. This is a challenge that I constantly balance with. At the same time, how can one try to change the world and survive in a highly competitive environment?
Black Friday’s Upcycler is not participating in the discount campaign. However, that doesn’t mean there would never be discounts. Every discount campaign has been carefully considered and at least for now, a seasonal discount is still necessary. In addition, from time to time I also want to offer discounts as "rewards" to my customers and invite new customers to Upcycler. Thus, Upcycler is involved among small entrepreneurs Christmas sales2020 at an online event in December.
A balanced anticipation of Christmas!