Friday 20 September 2019

'We can’t compete with the massive discounts' - independent retailers on the challenges they face on Black Friday 

Hen’s Teeth staff and Rosie Grogan-Keogh (far right) at her Fade St shop Credit: Colin O'Riordan
Hen’s Teeth staff and Rosie Grogan-Keogh (far right) at her Fade St shop Credit: Colin O'Riordan
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

While big name retailers prepare themselves for the chaotic sales on Black Friday this week, a number of independent retailers will be sitting themselves out.

For independently owned shops across Ireland, Black Friday can be a difficult day to navigate. The boom of Black Friday, a typically American tradition of having extreme discounts in the run up to Christmas, has continued to creep up on retailers and consumers over the last number of years.

This year’s event is set to take over Christmas for the spot of ‘busiest delivery day of the year’, according to address provider company Autoaddress.

The company found that current activity in the days leading up to this year’s Black Friday week is already up 17.5% compared to the average week.

According to the global Black Friday team, the average Irish person spends almost €300 on Black Friday, with 15pc anticipated to shop solely online this year- an increase of 5pc.

With brands offering up to 50pc on some items, indie store owners have spoken about the challenges they face in “competing” with well-known retailers, and what they plan to do on the biggest sale day of the year.

Amber Hennigan, owner of online accessories boutique Primp and Style, said she has decided not to partake in Black Friday this year- despite offering discounts the last two years.

“I opened the store in November 2015, within three weeks of opening I felt I had to offer a discount and it didn’t sit well with me at all,” Amber told Independent.ie.

“Last year we did offer a discount on all stock despite having a really good season. It seemed a shame to discount stock that was selling well before Christmas just for the sake of it.

“I feel we simply cannot compete with the massive discounts other retailers offer and I also feel offering such large discounts devalues our brand that we work really hard on.”

Wild Design Cork
Wild Design Cork

In Dublin, Hen’s Teeth, an art and lifestyle store on Fade Street, launched an “antidote” to Black Friday by encouraging their customers to show that they have made a purchase of €25 or more in a neighbouring independent store to avail of a 10pc discount.

Owners Rosie Gogan-Keogh and Greg Spring said they’d like to see people “make it count” by buying less, as Black Friday sales don’t work for everyone.

“The nature of Black Friday is that it tends to be big businesses that stockpile surplus stock and release it at the same time at a cheaper price, but it’s difficult for a smaller business to compete when you have a smaller inventory,” Greg told Independent.ie.

“This is the first time we’ve had a physical space for our store, so we’ve been getting to know our neighbours. It really feels like there’s a vibrancy around here, so we wanted to do something small,” Rosie added.

“It’s the small businesses that fill in the blanks and make the city more colorful.”

Meanwhile in Cork city, Wild Design have launched a similar event called ‘Green Friday’, in a bid to encourage shoppers to purchase ethical, Irish-made gifts this Christmas.

“It’s a massive day of the year but people tend to expect sales in every store because all the bigger retailers have them,” owner Bronwyn Connolly told Independent.ie.

“Smaller businesses like ourselves can’t compete with that, the margins are too low. We like to support Irish craft-makers and some of them wouldn’t be able to offer discounts like that.”

Based in Paul Street Shopping Centre, Bronwyn explained that instead of offering discounts, they came up with other ideas to thank shoppers instead- like offering free gift wrapping on all presents bought that day.

“It’s not just the benefits of shopping locally, but shopping environmentally as well, and it takes the pressure off smaller businesses to compete.”

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