85% of independents will boycot Black Friday, says Bira

In a recent survey, Bira revealed the majority of its members will not be slashing prices within their stores over Black Friday.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: “Christmas is going to be an incredibly important season for independent retailers. The retail sales data for October showed a promising increase with online sales falling to 27% of total sales. This trend indicates that shoppers have returned to shopping on the high street as they start to prepare for the festive period.

“Despite these positive indicators, we remain concerned about rising costs for the smaller retailers and the problems in the supply chain that are impeding the independent retailers ability to meet consumer demand. This current trading period is the most important one for retail, and we need stronger sales in November and December to help retailers take on the many challenges that await them in 2022.

“From our research, around 85% of independent retailers are not participating in Black Friday, which is higher than ever before. We have always known that independents don’t see much value in this event.

“The main reasons for them not wanting to take part in this, is because they either don’t agree with this idea, there are higher prices, and there is also insufficient volume to make the large discounting work. They also need to preserve their margins. This coupled with many of our independents experiencing supply chain issues, this has proved to be a real challenge.

“Independents changed their business model during the pandemic by promoting themselves more through social media and implementing services such as click and collect. This creativity is still important with shoppers looking to shop local and spend money in their local community.

“The pandemic has been very difficult for those retailers classed as non-essential. In the past 18 months they have suffered three lockdowns, weeks of restrictive regulations and are now just starting to build back their business.

“At the start of the pandemic, we saw customers turn to online providers because there was no other choice, and the large companies such as Amazon were the big winners. Whilst we, in some ways, admire what Amazon does, the pandemic simply highlighted the unfair playing field between high street shops and online retailers.

“I am pleased to say that indies are always resilient, and the latest ONS retail sales figures show that online penetration has fallen again and down to 27% (from a high of 59%). This is a sign that shops are fighting back and regaining the confidence of the consumer. However, more needs to be done by the government to enable the physical stores to continue to compete, and the best way would have been to completely reform business rates. Sadly, that well known problem has been kicked into the long grass yet again,” he added.

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