December 2, 2015

Pub Talk: Black Friday

By Genevieve Roberts


Brands that are standing out in the shopping stampede

The annual shopping extravaganza that is Black Friday – now extended through to Cyber Monday – saw billions jangling through American and British tills, an appreciation for cashmere jumpers, and a celebration by retailers.

The official start to the Christmas shopping season, a feature of US life since the 1930s, has been adopted by UK retailers over the last decade. This year, shoppers spent more than £1.3bn on bargains on this day alone.

As a concept, it makes sense: how frustrating is waiting until Boxing Day to get your hands on discounted goods when gift-buying takes place before Christmas?

But rather than simply discounting, it’s the retailers who add humanity to Black Friday that are engaging their customers long-term. By creating an emotional dialogue with shoppers, they are giving meaning and a lasting sense of worth to the day. And this focus on long-term relationships rather than short-term deals seems likely to grow, with movements such as Give Back Friday giving people an easy way to feel fulfilled while shopping.

If the UK is to going to fully celebrate Black Friday – without a backlash on social media claiming that a culturally irrelevant frenzy is being forced upon us – we will want to do so in a British way. Retail imperialism doesn’t work wholesale. Brawls in shopping aisles are not ideal. But brands that add meaning, happiness and humour to the day will always get a look in.


Cards Against Humanity

The irreverent game makers may well be smiling to themselves. They sold ‘nothing’ on Black Friday, writing on their website, “on Black Friday, everybody is selling something. We’re the only company to offer the superior Black Friday experience of buying nothing.”

At $5 for one portion of ‘nothing’, they made a profit of $71,145. Allowing news outlets and the public to speculate on exactly where the donations would be directed, the team instead decided to keep the money. Going one step further, they revealed an itemised list of the items bought on their site.


Adding good feeling to Black Friday, EasyFundraising coined the term ‘Give Back Friday’, and asked everyone to place orders to retailers through their website, so money could be raised to build playgrounds while people shopped.

Clothing brand Fat Face also used Black Friday as a day to donate, keeping regular prices but giving £250,000 to charity.


American Outdoor Store REI

Showing their love for the outdoors, all 143 stores paid their employees to shut up shop on Black Friday and #OptOutside.

Parks across the US joined in by offering free admission, and other outdoor companies followed suit – including Cliff Bar, Gregory Mountain Products, and Joe’s Bike Shop in Baltimore – all directing customers to #OptOutside.


Taking a stand for quality, the clothing brand bowed out of the sale. Writing on its website, ‘reduced by nothing, standing for something’, the brand claimed that they “prefer to work differently”, explaining designs and hand-cut patterns give their products true value – and promoting their end of season sales. also declined to discount, saying they make sure their customers are getting the best deals throughout the year.