This Friday, November 26 marks the official date of “Black Friday”, “Black Friday”, this commercial event which takes place the week following Thanksgiving. In the United States, stores take the opportunity to get rid of unsold stocks after this very important family celebration. In Europe, it allows traders to fill the low level of activity preceding the end of the year period, while benefiting smart consumers who already want to prepare for the holidays.
In practice, the slashed prices and the first Christmas purchases have already started for a short week in France, but in a way perhaps a bit more discreet than usual. The commercial-political psychodrama of last year, which led to the postponement of Black Friday for one week, accused of ruining traders after the long periods of compulsory closure, is a far cry from the intervention of the Minister of the Economy himself. same.
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This year the climate is different. Merchants, delighted to see their customers again after more than seven months of closure and many health uncertainties, are just starting to regain their pre-Covid figures (October 2021 is at the same level as that of 2019). But the pandemic and the threat of restrictions that accompany it are not over. And now we have to juggle with a crippled global economy: shortages of raw materials are increasing and maritime transport is congested, leading to lower stocks in warehouses.
“Good deals will be rare”
“We will have a Black Friday less strong than usual”, says Samih Khalef, director of the shoe brand Asics for France. Faced with plant closures in Asia, in particular in Vietnam, he concedes:
“Many products will be missing in the coming months, and that will continue at least for the first six months of 2022. We have concentrated our production on bestsellers and we will reduce promotional operations. “
He is not the only one. Giant Nike has admitted to anticipating sneaker shortages in the coming months. In view of Black Friday, “Customers will not necessarily find their first choice”, warns Richard Johnson, the boss of the Foot Locker sports shoe chain. “It is especially the entry-level products that will be lacking, points out Frank. Boehly, president of the Federation of Footwear Signs. In some stores, there are already 30% to 40% fewer references! “
The difficulties could be such that the cabinet Euler Hermes announces that “Good deals will be scarce for Black Friday”. This is due to the constrained supply linked to supply chain disruptions, low stocks, or even reductions applied to prices which have already increased. Across the Atlantic, consumers will, according to the firm, have to pay for clothes 10% more than in 2020, household appliances 12% more, furniture 14% and televisions 17% more.
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As for French trade, we are more measured. “We must not be afraid: there will be no shortage of products for Black Friday, nor afterwards, for the end of year celebrations”, reassures Yohann Petiot, Managing Director of the Alliance du Commerce, which represents both department stores and clothing and footwear brands. “This year, Black Friday should be more classic – in 2020, it had been postponed –, and that’s good news for merchants, because it attracts people to stores and kicks off the holiday season. “
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“Afterwards, we will be able to observe different behaviors depending on the stocks of each store, nuance however Emmanuel Le Roch, general delegate of the Procos federation, representing the specialized trade. Some traders may be less aggressive on promotions due to lower stocks. “
For consumers, Black Friday has indeed established itself as the time for Christmas shopping. And it should be even more true this year. According to a study by Boston Group Consulting (BCG), nearly 40% of French people plan to buy gifts on this occasion. In total, they should spend almost 300 euros per person. At the top of the shopping list, we first find electronics (28% of French people bought them during Black Friday 2020, according to a Dealabs study), followed by fashion (11%), (10.6%) and toys (10%).
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The return of all this consumption may sound like good news for traders. Remember that they achieve around 20% of their annual turnover between the end of November and the end of January. But remains an unknown: will the Covid impose new restrictions by then? During his conference this Thursday, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran reassured: at this stage, “No early closure of shops” is not being considered.