Welcome to the Green Enterprises blog, where you’ll find posts on many different topics related to small stores; small and medium businesses; and retail trends. We’ll discuss predominantly Canadian business practices but we’ll bring in data and trends from around the world.
Since tomorrow is Black Friday, I thought it best to start off with a few thoughts on that topic. Black Friday has become one of the largest, if not the largest, retail shopping day of the year. This trend has been led by large national or international vendors and the “Big Box” merchants. Though many small retailers have followed suit, Black Friday is still the arena of the largest players.
Black Friday is now an important pre-Christmas indicator of economic viability. Density of a parking lot and gross revenues at the malls and outlets indicate consumer attitudes. Visa and Mastercard both publish spending habits reports, sharing information such as average purchase size and average ticket size in the United States and Canada after Black Friday. These data can be used to forecast later spending habits. We’re coming out of a recession environment, so this is important information that can be used to schedule stock purchases, staff scheduling, and your own sales before or after the holidays. Remember, if no one spends before Christmas, they may be waiting to spend afterward.
But don’t worry: there are strategies for small vendors to compete with the large ones on Black Friday.
Small vendors now tend to be specialists in a sea of generalists. Whatever the hot sale item this year—and for the last few years it has been TVs, phones and tablets, and gaming systems—think about what you offer that the Big Box stores don’t. Do you stock a better quality item for a comparable price? Can you offer services after the point of purchase that the large vendors cannot?
Rewards programs can also be used to leverage customers to visit you on Black Friday. If you already have a recognition program or some way of identifying regular customers, invite them to an exclusive offer or discount at your store on Black Friday. Even if they want the 70” screen on sale across town, they may be willing to come to you for 25% off all purchases at their favourite local store.
And as always in retail, sometimes the best way to follow a trend is to break it entirely. This year the large US outdoor retailer REI announced it would be closed and encouraged its customers to enjoy the outdoors rather than shop (http://time.com/money/4088989/black-friday-thanksgiving-rei/). Big Box retailers Staples, Lowes, Home Depot, Costco and BJ's have also announced their closure over the Thanksgiving weekend in the US as a call to the return of family holidays. Game Stop, who have never been open on Thanksgiving, went further by trumpeting their non-sale as a return to “core values” and letting their employees spend time with their families.
This year, the Canadian Retail Council has launched a program devoted to helping small businesses get ahead on Black Friday. The program, ShopIn.ca, encourages people to shop local on the Saturday after Black Friday. The Council provides a social media kit, website development tools, and in-store signage to help you link your business to the shop local movement. The website also features pictures of other businesses who have adopted the program for this season.
Black Friday has gone from an American consumer tradition to a global retail event, spreading throughout the English speaking world. With it has come the worst of consumer trends in greed and selfishness. Every year, several clerks in stores around the world are injured or killed in trampling or fights by customers intent on getting a deal. The website Black Friday Death Count tracks these incidents. As owners and managers, when planning for Black Friday, we have a duty to our staff to keep them safe.
Whether you are having a sale or planning to shop one, stay safe this Black Friday.