Often recognised as the unofficial start of the US Christmas period, Black Friday has now become a firm fixture in the UK retail calendar. Despite this, the first recorded mention of the phrase “Black Friday” actually refers to the financial crash of the American gold market in September 1869. And, with retailers regularly reporting losses as a result of discounting over the Black Friday period, has the dark financial cloud settled firmly over the clearance event?
With just a month to go before Black Friday returns to the UK, we talk to 3 PGA Professionals about their thoughts on this annual retail event.
Carl Bianco, Head PGA Professional, Woking Golf Club
I totally ignore Black Friday from a retail point of view. My view is that Club Pro’s have to identify their audience and focus on maximising the opportunities from that chosen market. We don’t want to create a new market for our shops where customers expect discount sales and then wait for them in future trading cycles. It makes no sense to me to offer the new Autumn Winter lines in a sale when, in a few weeks’ time, it would all sell at full price as Christmas Gifts!
I specialise in offering high quality and performance goods for a demanding and specific clientele. I don’t think these discerning customers will be tempted to impulsively buy because of a Black Friday sale, and I’m not going to upset my customers who paid full price by offering the same goods heavily discounted. There’s plenty of business out there, and I certainly don’t want to focus on attracting the high turnover, very low margin end of the market into my store.
The timing of Black Friday very often coincides with my end of summer clearance sale, where I price to get my investment back, ready for reinvesting in newer stock lines.
Stuart Disney, Head PGA Professional, Mendip Golf Club
Years ago, I would follow the Black Friday trend and put on a huge sale of products over a weekend, just to turn stock over but this had a really negative effect on my business. We found ourselves doing deals on product that we hadn’t anticipated and the effect on my margins was profound. Another downside, of course, is that educated customers will hold off on purchases, and wait for your Black Friday sale. It doesn’t take a lot to work out that it’s not great business sense.
I haven’t done anything for Black Friday for the last 2 years and it hasn’t hurt me at all. Instead of reacting to external events like this, I now look at my stock levels and whether I need to clear anything prior to Christmas.
Last year, I did a club MOT weekend at around the same time as Black Friday. It was a great weekend with free services on offer. We asked members to come into the shop and we offered advice on their equipment. We did a few trolley services, re-spiked lots of shoes, and if a member wanted a full set of grips, we might do a deal on it. This ‘value-add’ approach really sewed a seed when it came to servicing, or upgrading kit. In terms of turnover, it wasn’t amazing, but it definitely put us to the forefront of customers’ minds.
Joshua Harvey, PGA Professional and Retail manager, Edgbaston Golf Academy
At Edgbaston Golf Academy, we no longer offer a Black Friday sale, due to our stock being better managed, and therefore not having any clearance stock. Instead, we take advantage of the raised customer expectation for offers and sales, to provide our services free of charge, such as, custom fitting and gapping sessions. This strategy allows us to upsell other products, such as hardware and grips, and definitely helps attract new customers, among members and visitors, for the following months.
Years ago, when our stock holding was slightly higher, we marketed and advertised a Black Friday Auction, whereby members could come into the shop over the weekend, knowing what products were available in advance, and place a bid. This generated a lot of conversation and interest between members, and when some members entered into a bidding war, we were able to make a higher profit margin, than if we were to just sell the item at a single sale price.
I find that while discounting might gather some interest, it sets an expectation that things will be discounted in the future, and is likely to damage your margin. Yes, Black Friday can have a purpose of reducing dead stock, but it highlights poor initial buying decisions. Therefore, we’ve now realised if we spend more time analysing what has gone well, and how we need to change in the future, we should not need to offer reduced stock in our sales.
Thinking of a Black Friday sale in your pro shop?
Black Friday can be good to get rid of stock, but usually at the expense of ‘margin’. You’ll often find that, although your turnover will be up, the money in your bank is the same.
If you have excess stock, can you get rid of it before the start of the season? If Christmas is normally good for you, do you really want to damage that in November with a big sale?
BF Tip: Have a look at your figures from previous years and compare them to the months around Black Friday. November is traditionally bigger than October, but smaller than December.
BF Tip: If you have a Stock Turn of less than 2, you’re below the national average and holding onto too much stock. In this case, a Black Friday sale might be good to help turn stock over.
Your XPOS system works out your stock turn for you and can help you decide whether a Black Friday sale might be good for your business. For advice, please get in touch with our Support Team. DM us on Twitter @CT_HelpTeam or contact us via the CHAT button on our website crossovertec.co.uk Follow us on social.