The Booms and Busts of Black Friday

the booms and busts of black friday

by Phil  Barnard


There are many myths around the origins of Black Friday and each one seems to have a dark story attached.

One of the more popular claims is that the term ‘Black Friday’ was coined by police in Philadelphia in the 1950’s and referred to the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers and tourists crowded into the city to watch the annual Army-Navy football game. Chaos ensued each year, with traffic blocking the streets and shoplifters taking advantage of an overstretched police force who were required to work extra-long shifts. Years later, attempts to put an end to the negativity saw the advent of an annual Black Friday event to celebrate consumerism with clearance sales.

Regardless of the real reason behind ‘Black Friday’, it’s fair to say the event has triggered some unusual behaviours in the retail world over the years.

Any clearance event should be approached with planning and strategy. Inventory is often the key determinant around whether Black Friday is a success each year: ie, how much excess stock is in the market place and how much retailers want to clear. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen contrasting situations in golf retail.  Early on, retailers didn’t have enough stock to clear because they couldn’t get hold of product. Whereas, this year, many retailers have ordered stock that’s gone out of demand by the time it turns up in the store. This has led to a good deal of unwanted product sitting in pro shops.


Deal or No Deal?

For consumers, Black Friday can be a difficult time to navigate as they try to understand whether the deals presented are actually what they say they are. Often, retailers will pump up prices to highlight a good deal, which may not be significant - especially when the sale activity is presented across a large variety of products.

In reality, the retailers who genuinely have too much stock are the ones who’ll run a Black Friday sale with authentic clearance prices. Others see it as a sales opportunity to drive more money through the stores and can be a great thing for business, if done well.


Market Decisions

If we compare stock to 2021, there’s been some growth in the market this year. While we know that retailers have more bags, wedges and irons in 2022 than they had last year, as the first ‘normal’ year after Covid, 2021 was exceptional.

Market activity is often a reflection of how your golf shop is likely to look right now, and it’s important to see both short and long-term trends.  For example, while stock of Irons is up 22% in the market on last year, it’s actually down 37% on 2019. Categories such as Bags and Putters, which have seen the biggest change since 2019, may need to see some promotional activity to help clear excess product.


Clear and Focus

As the economy tightens up and concerns grow over expenditure, consumers are on the hunt for quality over quantity. If you’re putting items into clearance this Black Friday, be aware that consumers may be pickier about what they buy.

Rumours have it that the larger online stores do have a lot of stock to clear, so if you decide to run a clearance event, perhaps look at keeping it small and genuine. If you have stock to clear, then my advice would be to go ahead. Just bear in mind that there are only a few product categories out there in a position of serious excess stock.

As always, check your Xpos reports before you make any decisions about what to clear. Your reports will confirm what has shifted well this year, and what stock is struggling, so use Black Friday as an opportunity to push slow and excess stock.

Good luck.


Stewart Whiteford – Wellsgreen Golf Range


“Why would customers buy something in November if it’s going to be reduced soon?”

Our approach to Black Friday has changed over the years.  For the first three years of the business, we went for it in a big way. We used it as an opportunity to sell off old demo product from club fitting, which we probably sold off cheaper than we needed to.  We also used to discount quite a lot of stock from the shop.

Then we started to question why we were doing it. Were we jumping on the back of Black Friday for the consumer, or for us?

Almost 100% of our stock is always out in the shop so the last thing I want is for people to wait for a sale to make a purchase. Why buy something in November if it’s going to be reduced?   I don’t like to buy stock in for Black Friday although I can see why some retailers do.

I’d rather do a sale when I need to do one – when we’re over-stocked or need to keep cash flowing through the year. But not because customers expect it. We now have a permanent sale rail for stock we want to move on.

These days, we’ll get customers asking about Black Friday because, for those 2-3 years, we did it big, so some people still expect it.  Customers do understand when we explain why we aren’t doing a Black Friday event.


Steve Pockneall – Ferndown Forest Golf Course


“We’ll recycle existing offers to create extra interest and additional footfall”

Most retailers seem to do something for Black Friday and your own customers now expect it.

At Ferndown Forest, we go all out for Black Friday. We’ll buy in new stock; we’ll aim to clear slow moving products; and we’ll also use it as an excuse to push existing offers in store.  A bit like Amazon, we’ll use Black Friday to recycle offers to create extra interest and additional footfall.

Over the Black Friday weekend, we can quadruple our turnover. We might lose some margin but you make up for it in turnover and extra custom.  I also see it as good PR as we don’t want to be seen to ignore it.

I don’t think Black Friday should be a ‘blanket no’. If you’re a smaller retailer, you can use the event to highlight offers to promote existing stock, or you could create extra offers for the day and email members to generate some interest. Perhaps thrown in a free lesson. It’s good publicity.

This year is different because there’s so much excess stock. There’ll be a lot of clearance of existing product, rather than people buying in for the event.