Black Friday or beige Wednesday? University business expert on our changing shopping habits

Professor Lawrence Bellamy is the University of Sunderland’s Academic Dean for the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism.

Here he discusses our ever evolving, post-pandemic shopping habits and asks if Black Friday is really that relevant anymore.

“Early Black Friday deals now represent an extended effort to get consumers to part with their money and are really heralding that it’s about time to do some Christmas shopping.

“However, it’s certainly not the big bang it was, with loss-leaders tempting us. It’s now a longer slow burn of promotions, rolling up to Christmas and through into January sales.

“Post lockdown we have seen a return to the High Street, but footfall is not where it was. Weekends are fair with shoppers getting out, perhaps looking for an experience, and this is getting close to a previous pattern of activity.

“However, during the week the town centres are still feeling the pressure of people working from home more than they used. Many employers, particularly in professional office environments, have more flexible working policies than previously.

“Many people are, at least in part, online converts. This generation skilfully look for the best value from their desk or sofa and not seduced by glitzy sale banners, as online there is always a deal to be had from a sale somewhere.

“Black Friday is not a day, but a season.

“On the High Street we have lost some big names. Big stores, particularly the department format have suffered. They have large overheads and try to be all things to all people. Nice for browsing if you have the time, but ‘cherry-picking’ from a range of providers can secure you better deals.

“Informed shoppers, thanks to the smartphone in their pocket, know the value of anything in a few seconds. High Streets are reformatting, with more boutique provision, repurposing of retail space for other business or even accommodation requirements and are more-so built around the draw of a value offering.

“Experience is a key facet too, with people wanting fun, leisure, relaxation, socialising built in. Basic shopping habits are now more Amazon and Primark for consumers, getting value and a retail hit from online and permanent bargains.

“The High Street needs to be a feel-good trip if people are going to put down their phones and spend a little money, as the old habits have changed, and retail is shifting with it.”

Find out more about the Faculty of Business Law and Tourism at the University of Sunderland here

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