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Saturday, November 29, 2014

UK Opens Door To Disgusting Black Friday Shopping Mayhem

Wal Mart marketing poison spreads to England as CNN, Fox "News" hype the revolting spectacle of brain-dead Americans fighting over cheap Chinese junk in failed effort to boost flagging sales for their corporate masters  

FINANCIAL TIMES
11/28/2014

I hate shopping. My kids used to beg me not to take them to the supermarket because I became so grouchy when I couldn’t find some critical item. Now, everything in my house – from the dog food to the kids’ clothing – arrives thanks to the tender offices of Ocado, the Royal Mail or some other delivery service.


Cashier hauled away after being injured
So it is with some bemusement that I have watched the growing enthusiasm in the UK for the retail phenomenon known as “Black Friday”. In the US, the Friday after Thanksgiving was a quasi-holiday and it still is. Schools are closed, and most non-retail businesses and government offices get by with skeleton staffing, allowing people to spend time with their families.

When I was growing up in New York, my family always viewed the day as a great time to take a hike or visit a museum, and our neighbours usually put up their Christmas tree. 


But we knew lots of people who liked to use their free day to get a jump on their holiday shopping, and the stores were always packed.

US lore holds that Philadelphia policemen were the first to adopt the term Black Friday – previously used only for stock market crashes – some time in the 1960s, to refer to the badly behaved throngs that crowded the city’s streets on the day between Thanksgiving and the locally played Army vs Navy American football game. The name then spread.

Retailers made the term their own because it signalled the start of the crucial Christmas shopping season, when many stores turned profitable for the first time in the year – moving out of the red and into the black. By the 1980s, newspapers and local television stations were full of ads promising “door buster” specials: loss-leading discounts only available on Black Friday. Opening hours crept ever earlier – some US chains start the discounts on Thanksgiving itself, as do many online retailers.


Revolting: Brain-dead animals fight over Chinese trash 
Now, the UK has joined the game, even though it has no quasi holiday to bring in extra customers. However, UK stores do not seem to have thought the process through. Scuffles broke out at several Tesco and Asda supermarkets, and a number of high-profile retail websites crashed.


UK retailers should have been better prepared. As the Philadelphia example makes clear, the US has a long history of Black Friday mayhem. In 2012, two people were shot outside a Walmart in Florida, and last year, a Las Vegas man was shot after he refused to surrender the cut-priced television he had just purchased at a Target store.


Americans sink ever lower into the abyss this holiday season
And what is the business case for all this? In a rising economy, pulling shoppers into the stores early might mean you can tempt them into buying extra stuff as the season progresses. 

But US analysts have warned for years that Thanksgiving bargains eat into profits and condition shoppers to wait for further discounts. Manic Black Fridays have not necessarily translated into bumper overall sales.


The big UK supermarket chains that seem to have gone hardest into Black Friday promotions are already locked in a bitter price war. Overall grocery sales in the 12 weeks to November 9 fell for the first time since record keeping began. Now they have further discounts to absorb, and the bad publicity from Black Friday scuffles will do nothing to woo back disgruntled customers like me. Supermarket shareholders should not be surprised to find coal rather than dividends in their Christmas stockings.



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