Retail trend: Singles Day 1-Black Friday 0


That’s the thing about trends. They’re like buses. You hang around waiting for one then two come along at once. So what has today yielded? First a shift in retailers’ approach to Black Friday, and second the growth of China’s Singles Day as a global event.

So, Black Friday. Asda, one of the prime movers in making it the crazy-behaviour-meets-even-crazier-deals day it became last year is stepping back. The Walmart-owned UK supermarket chain said it’s identified ‘shopper fatigue’ after speaking to customers. Instead it will spread its £26m of savings across the Christmas shopping period and into the New Year.

CEO Andy Clarke said customers “don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.” Will other retailers follow suit? Quite a few of them entered enthusiastically into the Black Friday madness in 2013 and 2014 but also complained about being held hostage themselves. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Of course, Black Friday doesn’t have the field to itself in terms of late-in-the-year shopping events as China’s Singles Day (or Guanggun Jie) has reared its head. Ok, you could be forgiven for not knowing what that is. Celebrated on November 11 (get it? 11/11 – all the ones), it’s become the largest shopping event in the world with Alibaba alone seeing sales of $9.3bn last year.

The event resonates beyond China now with international brands targeting the Chinese market, and Chinese tourists and ex-pats spreading the joy elsewhere in Asia, in Europe and the Americas. All that is turning Singles Day into an event that non-Chinese shoppers are starting to notice. Britain’s Royal Mail has a shopfront on Alibaba’s Tmall Global Marketplace to allow faster shipping and is extending its strategic partnership to link Chinese exporters directly with UK e-shoppers. The aim is to let UK consumers join in the Singles Day shopping frenzy.

So will it take off elsewhere? Check back later this week to see just how 2015’s Singles Day worked out around the world.

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