Black Friday is upon us and we may find ourselves in a slight state of sudden panic, says Breda Graham.
AUTUMN came and we complained about how early retailers had their Christmas decorations up, but October quickly left us high and dry and then followed November to remind us that Christmas is in fact not as far away as we may have thought.
It is suddenly the end of November and you find yourself asking since when was practically everyone you know born in the month of December?
You realise a to-do list is necessary to fit in all the festive activities, and with lots of people to buy for and when you’re going to find the time to do the oh-so-stressful seasonal shopping. Black Friday has been a huge hit in the US for years, but now shoppers on this side of the pond can enjoy a day of reductions as more Irish retailers become involved in the annual shopping bonanza.
According to the latest Consumer Market Monitor, published by the Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, a total of €250m is forecast to be spent by Irish shoppers today on Black Friday.
Online spending is forecast to reach €16 billion this year, up 16% on 2018, with 40% of that expected to be spent on online retailing.
There are plenty of retailers in Ireland offering great deals and just some of these include, Amazon, Argos, ASOS, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Currys, Debenhams, Easons, Gamestop, Harvey Norman, Homebase, Littlewoods, M&M Direct, River Island and Smyths Toys, to name a few.
Some may see it as the ideal way to get presents out of the way as prices drop significantly, we all love a bargain at such an expensive time of the year after all.
It can be the perfect solution to saving money while ticking items off the shopping list before December hits like a bad cold.
Some advice to the stressful shopper, however. If you are the type of shopper who gets easily flustered in a busy shop, tightly packed with enthusiasts who are determined to make it to the checkout, no matter who they knockdown in the process, then I advise staying clear of the Black Friday sales.
Instead, opt for the easier option that allows you to kick off your shoes and rest your feet, hassle-free. The wonderful world of online shopping. With many online retailers offering reductions, you won’t be stuck for choice.
The checkout experience doesn’t consist of a struggle to make it to the queue with all your hair left on your head, followed by what feels like the longest 20-minute wait of your life, it is as simple as clicking ‘checkout’ and entering your card details.
The total cost that the items in your basket amount to appear before you checkout online — an option much easier than acting as a human calculator with a rough estimate that is completely overruled when the cashier at Penneys tells you the total amount and you use the counter as support for fear of fainting. Yes, all of those small prices do add up.
But while larger online retailers will have some significant reductions, remember that the holiday shopping season can affect workers.
Your consumer choices essentially affect both the worker in larger retailers and smaller local business owners, but in different ways.
In a recent collaboration between The Atlantic and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the story of 54-year-old Candice Dixon told of the ruthless quotas that Amazon expects their employees to reach, causing stressful working conditions in its Eastvale warehouse in California and health conditions for its staff.
So while Candice, among thousands of others, suffer under the pressures of their workplace when consumers buy from large online retailers, smaller local businesses also suffer a loss in sales and are threatened with the survival of their businesses.
Remember, whether shopping from the comfort of the sofa or venturing out into the cold, think about ethical shopping and the many Irish brands and businesses that you could benefit this festive season. Just some Irish brands and retailers to consider include Chupi, Eason & Son, Golden Discs, pharmacy chains Hickey’s, Sam McCauleys and McCabes, the Kilkenny Shop, Tipperary Crystal, Gym + Coffee, and smaller businesses such as Love The Mug, Babyboo.ie, Chaos+Harmony and Pip & Ruby.
And if you are the type who loves shopping, and the thought of being the first to the checkouts in a rushed sea of fellow shopaholics excites you, then, by all means, hit the shops, all whilst considering supporting local stores.
Once you’re in, it is a case of everyone for themselves and in a Hunger Games-like situation, there is no compassion shown to make it out with your sanity intact.
After all, even online shops have their glitches. With so many people online, many websites can potentially crash and have done so in the past.
Just as you’ve triple checked your basket, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach comes over you as the ‘oops something went wrong, please refresh the page to try that again’ message pops up. Panic sets in, then despair, then utter disbelief that the internet has failed you. The choice is before you.
Do you refresh the page and lose all the items in your basket that you have ever so carefully thought about and picked out over a glass of wine or three?
Or do you give up on that 50% off cosy cardigan, on shopping online and the whole concept of Black Friday?
Back to square one, it is. A failed Black Friday and prices shoot back up the day later. It wasn’t even worth the struggle.
You will just go to that work Christmas party, meet that friend of yours, attend numerous birthday bashes and leave your shopping until Christmas Eve.
Yeah, that will work. And if all else fails today, just thank the online retailers who started noticing a boost in sales the following Monday after Black Friday.
These boost in sales have led to the creation of Cyber Monday, the digital equivalent of Friday’s sales boost. Best of luck with that one.