4 ways independent retailers can boycott this year’s Black Friday

Next week’s Black Friday is expected to be a lot less popular than previous years. Analysts say it’s down to the cost of living and the event’s timing ahead of payday. But could it be that shoppers are simply falling out of love with mass consumption and retail giants?

According to the Everyday Green Environmental Impact of Black Friday report, around 80 per cent of the products bought on Black Friday end up in landfill anyway. So, given the uncertain economic outlook, many shoppers this year will be even more interested in investment pieces they’ll still have in their homes and wardrobes come next year.

New research from American Express also shows that 79 per cent of UK adults think it’s important to support local businesses when shopping this Christmas. And with various ‘shop small’ campaigns gaining traction, this time of the year offers many opportunities to remind customers why they should choose you over Amazon. Because as we know, offering blanket Black Friday discounts isn’t the only way to engage shoppers.  

Here’s how to promote your store without slashing prices before Christmas…

1. Remind customers of your worth

If you decide not to take part in Black Friday this year, let you customers know why. Whether you post on social media, send out a customer email or add a banner to your website (or try all three), most savvy customers understand the challenges faced by small businesses and may even decide to support you more than usual.

Colour Friday campaign imagery

In an Instagram reel posted this week, Sunday Best owner Jan Shutt tells followers: “It’s Black Friday week, so why aren’t Sunday Best engaging in it? Well, we travel the world to find gorgeous goodies and we bring things back that are different. Customers have faith in us that, in July and January, we have two genuine sales. So why would we want to engage in an American concept in between that? So, if you buy something it’s going to be the same price. There’s knowledge and comfort in knowing you don’t have to worry about it. Having said that it’s Black Friday week so we can sell you lots of black!” (watch here).

It’s often better to acknowledge the event rather than ignoring it all together. And boycotting Black Friday presents another content opportunity for social media, which is always welcome.

2. Take part in Colour Friday

In 2022, Holly and Co’s Holly Tucker launched an annual Colour Friday campaign to encourage everyone to reconsider their Black Friday mass consumption and encourage consumers to shop thoughtfully with small businesses. Taking place on the same day – Friday 24 November – retailers can use it to remind shoppers to small independents in the run up to Christmas.

There are lots of ways retailers can get involved. Really, it’s all about spreading the ‘shop small’ message.

In the lead up to the big day, indies can share a ready-made ‘save the date’ video on social media to create a talking point around why you’re boycotting Black Friday. Businesses can also download free artwork created by Adam Bridgland to start a conversation about Colour Friday or put it in the shop for all to see. (sign up to download free assets here. )

Retailers can also fill shop windows with a colourful display and show your local community the creativity indies bring. Colour Friday will also be searching for the most colourful shop in the UK – so tag #colourfriday in all your posts.

On the day itself, retailers can share the Colour Friday film (coming soon to Holly’s Instagram) with a caption explaining what a difference it makes to you personally when someone shops with you.

Your store’s team can also dress colourfully and show it off on Instagram, explaining how small businesses like yours bring colour to grey.

Lastly, Holly and Co suggest sharing five fellow small businesses you love to help promote each other in the run up to Christmas.

Find out more here.

3. Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday

Probably the most high profile campaign for indpenendents in the UK, Small Business Satursday first arrived on our shores in 2012. This year it will take place on Saturday 2 December, encouraging consumers to shop locally or at indie stores after the retail frenzy of Black Friday.

Any small company can get involved, whether they are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer.

The campaign usually receives a lot of traction. Over the years it has trended at number one in the UK on Twitter while various high profile figures have taken part and urged people to support small firms.

Retailers can get involved by registering on its free Small Business Finder. You can also download its logos and marketing pack to promote the campaign on social media and in-store. Small Business Saturday also hosts lots of business-boosting initiatives in the run up to the day itself, including its nationwide tour that kicked of Scotland at the end of last month.

Find out more here.

4. Sign up for American Express’ Shop Small Offer

From 1-3 December 2023, American Express UK Cardmembers will receive a £5 statement credit when they spend £15 or more at participating small businesses across the UK. The offer can be used up to three times (once per participating small business location) meaning that Cardmembers can reward themselves with up to £15 back in credit.

American Express continues to be the principal supporter of Small Business Saturday, championing the high street and encouraging the nation to shop small in the run up to the festive season and beyond.

American Express’s Harry Mole says: “Our research shows there is a strong desire among shoppers to support small businesses which sit at the heart of our local communities. We’re proud to champion them once again with our Shop Small campaign which offers Cardmembers cashback on their festive and everyday shopping, while encouraging all-important footfall on the high street. Over this crucial shopping period, we invite our Cardmembers to show their love for the places that make our villages, towns and cities so special.”

Find out how to become a participating business here.