Black Friday: Why did these 5 brands decided not to participate

Posted by Catarina Fonseca

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On November 23 this year marks the beginning of the festive season with one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the world: Black Friday. This commemorative date in the US has become a global phenomenon, moving millions of consumers to both physical stores and online stores.

According to Adobe, in 2017, online buyers in the US spent 4.41 billion euros on Black Friday. And although these numbers decrease in Europe, the figures are still quite interesting. According to Voucher Codes, in 2017 in the UK, online shoppers spent 1.30 billion euros on Black Friday. In 2016, Black Friday generated 1.8 million euros in online sales in Portugal.

However, despite this date generating astronomical sales figures, the truth is that it also causes great pressure on an eCommerce and across the market. For starters, website traffic usually increases a lot, so you need to ensure that your servers can handle a larger number of visitors. There is also a huge expectation on the part of the buyers, who expect big discounts from an online store. Thus, the stores end up significantly reducing profit margins of some products that, many times, have already small margins. At a logistic level, the volume of orders, and shipments, increases exponentially in a short time. As a result, delivery companies have to handle a greater number of shipments than usual, which can lead to delays in delivery time.

And these are just a few of the reasons that led to the creation of the “Alternative Black Friday Movement,” a movement that seeks to get both businesses and consumers away from Black Friday and explore different alternatives for this day. Here are some of the stores that participate in this alternative movement and its main reasons for doing so.

  • REI – REI, an American outdoor equipment store, has become one of the best-known brands not to participate in Black Friday. Since 2016 this retailer closes all of its 153 physical stores, its distribution center, its headquarters and also its online order processing. And not only that. REI also created the #OptOutside movement, in which it invited (and paid) its employees to spend the day away in Nature. In turn, this initiative has become extremely popular on social media and is currently a movement with a lot of support, not only by the public, other organizations and even the American Park Serviced. For REI’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke, closing on Black Friday is not just an ethical decision, but a good business strategy as well. And this year the company will remain firm on that decision.
  • Patagonia – In 2016, Patagonia, also a retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment, participated in this alternative movement to Black Friday in a very interesting way. The company decided not to close its stores, but rather to make this shopping date into a day for a cause. Patagonia donated 100% of its Black Friday profits to various environmental charities. And this proved to be a very successful campaign, because not only did it cement their brand image, but also gained them 60,000 followers on Facebook in two days, and they were also highly discussed in the American media. In relation to their sales, they exceeded their sales projections by a lot. Its maximum estimates were 3.5 million dollars, when in truth it reached a value of over 10 million dollars in sales.
  • Oliver Cabell – Oliver Cabell is an online store that sells luxury accessories with the “lowest mark-up possible”, revealing the costs of each of its products on its product page. For this reason, some of its most fundamental values ​​are transparency and smart consumption. So it’s no surprise that two years ago, its CEO, Scott Gabrielson, wrote a letter to their clients explaining why the company closes its website on this commemorative date.

“It’s Black Friday. This kickoff to the shopping season is crucial to our overall economy, but the annual spectacle is also sending strong signals that something is deeply wrong. We feel Black Friday encourages overspending and impulse buying, and has put the focus on quantity over quality. Because we want to celebrate intentional buying, and believe that having fewer, better things adds more value to our lives, we decided to shut down the site for the day. Have a great Friday, and we’ll be back tomorrow.”

  • Selfridges – Like previous companies, this English luxury department store also chooses not to participate in Black Friday. However, this store chose to create its own event called “Christmas Comes Early”, an event created both in the physical store and online, with the intention of drawing attention to the holiday season, not to massive discounts.
  • IKEA – The famous furniture and decoration store that does not participate in this sales date, and its motive is its business model. IKEA focuses on offering products at a low price throughout the year, so it chooses not to participate in temporary discount events.


Black Friday: is it worth it?

As you saw above, there are several brands that choose to not engage in Black Friday, for a variety of reasons. It may be for the sake of positioning, as participating in Black Friday can convey a different message than what is desired. Or due to its business model, like IKEA. Or to get away from the logistical complications that a short, but intense shopping spree can bring.

However, there are also several reasons why Black Friday is an interesting holiday for your online store. So if you believe that your eCommerce will benefit from this date, analyse the pros and cons well. Make sure that both your internal structure and your partners are prepared for the possible increase of orders. After all, more than big discounts, consumers always expect to have a good shopping experience, even during periods with high volume orders, such as Black Friday.

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