Hundreds of people crushed up against the glass doors of the supermarket, piling in as they opened, and a clambering of limbs over the dozens of bodies now crushed on the floor. People having a tug of war with a microwave and fights between grown men breaking out over a television.
These are my memories of the first time I witnessed the American craze of Black Friday taking hold in the UK.
It was around this time last year, after several months of planning and preparation, that we started trading as an official business, selling surf and skate clothing online.
With dreams of one day opening my own bricks and mortar store I wondered if I would ever be confronted with these types of scenes and what it all means for small businesses in the UK.
Are greedy retailers going to continue to risk the health and safety of their customers in the quest for profits?
This year, on Friday 27 November, stores across the world have again slashed their prices to entice bargain hunters to spend all day browsing and shopping in the high street or online. But is there an alternative to getting involved?
At TVSC we have decided to go against the grain and promote an Anti-Black Friday message.
Instead of spending all day in the office taking part in what we have seen to be a really ugly side of retail, we are going to go for a surf if there’s a wave, a skate if there’s no rain or a shred at the snow centre if the weather’s not playing ball.
With many retail traders now only turning off their tills for one day of the year, we thought we could turn (what we believe to be) a negative event in the industry on its head, and create an annual opportunity to reward and recognise our team with a chance to immerse themselves in the lifestyle that I’m stoked to say shaped our business.
Despite TVSC being so directly influenced by the Californian surf and skate culture, the now customary start to the Christmas shopping season is one US trend we cannot get on board with.
There are still 364 alternative days to be able to shop, so we believe that this day should be used for doing things that time might not usually allow. We’d like to think that if people are lucky enough to be off work for the day, then instead of queuing outside on the high street at 4am and having to wrestle seven other people for 20 per cent off a 40-inch television they might like to get outdoors, try something new or spend some quality time with their family.
Read more on Black Friday:
- Paid holiday on Black Friday: What REI can teach you about building a better business
- Here is why firms should not blindly follow the Black Friday craze
- Embrace the dark side: Black Friday online spending in UK to break £1bn
By closing our online store for the day we are hoping to encourage people to take a step back from the frenzy and consider whether they might be doing something more meaningful with their day.
We have great relationships with all of our suppliers and we know how hard they work to get their amazing products out to the market. We feel it would be quite insulting to them, for us to go cutting 50, 60 or 70 per cent off their prices, especially considering the reduced margins that all smaller businesses have to work on.
By building these connections with our partner brands, around more than just bottom-line profit, we can help each other to grow, and this in turn has positive repercussions throughout the UK board sports market.
It is only large corporations who can profit from such aggressive discounting and this serves to fill consumers with a false idea of product value, and so reduces the opportunity for the creatives to flourish.
We like to promote a more sustainable form of consumerism and hope people only buy when they need to, and not just because a product is reduced in a ridiculous, frenzied one-day sale.
Black Friday, with the unrealistic discounting, the lack of consideration for retail workers, and the potential for price related punch-ups, really isn’t something we want to be associated with.
So for this reason, TVSC.co will be closed for one day on the 27 November, 00:00am until 23:59pm.
We hope to see just a few more people in the water, on the slope or at the park.
Paul Vale is the MD of surf and skate clothing site TVSC
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