Black Friday: Why this year's deals really won't be repeated

Retailers are able to hold their pre-Brexit prices, in part because a lot of stock was already bought in prior to the pound's tumble

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The Independent Online

One-time-only, never-to-be-repeated Black Friday deal. Buy, buy, buy, buy! That’s all you’re going to hear from retailers as they gear up for the imported and entirely illogical (in Britain) shopping festival. 

This year, however, it actually makes some kind of sense and not just in the fever dreams – or nightmares – of those who fear Brexit Britain joining the US as the 51st state and taking on its Thanksgiving Thursday holiday. The Friday after that is, of course, the black one, when Americans traditionally take an extra day off to scratch their retail itches. Britons do so too thanks to the marketing departments of Amazon and others who have brought the concept over here despite there being no corresponding public holiday the day before.

What’s different about this year is that the one time only, never to be repeated offers, retailers like to trumpet, really are one time only, never to repeated offers. 

This year you really can believe the Black Friday hype, and here’s why: a lot of imported stock will have been bought in prior to the pound’s Brexit induced stumble, so it can be sold at pre-Brexit prices without retailers suffering any great pain. Even where that is not the case, they’ll take the hit to their margins to keep their prices competitive with everyone else.

The inflation induced by the collapse of our currency on the world markets will take some time to work its way through the system.

But it is coming. Buy now pay before prices go up is a powerful message, especially when it’s true, as it is now. The price of imported goods will go up, and really quite soon. Tesco might have won round one of its battle with a supplier (Unilever) to hold prices down, but this is a war it cannot win. 

Some companies have, of course, got started early. Apple is the obvious example. Lots of people thought its recent price hikes were just about Apple being mean and greedy and that it would have tried them on regardless.

There may be something to that, but its UK price rises were also about it facing up to the reality of the pound’s reduced clout and the impact on its margins that has. Others don't have Apple's pricing power, and so they're not able to get in as early as it did. But they will follow suit because they’ll have to. It isn’t economic for them to absorb the rising costs of importing goods priced in dollars or euros, particularly at a time when an increasing minimum wage is forcing them to more fairly reward their staff for the work they do (which is something we should all support, by the way). 

Black Friday isn’t quite the last hurrah. Cheaper prices will probably last through to the Boxing Day sales, although the Daily Retailer’s Nick Bubb notes that a strong Black Friday will pull a lot of business forward. Boxing Day might be a letdown this year if people go as mad as the retailers would like them to over the next few days. 

Regardless, you might just as well enjoy it while it lasts. Flat screens, laptops, tablets and the rest – they’ll never be this cheap again. The deals on show really are never-to-be-repeated one-time-only offers this time around.

So, time we all headed down to our local Tesco to see how many kids and old folk we can trample on to get to that cheap telly. Next year’s model is guaranteed be a much pricier prospect after inflation has done its work on an economy that’s poised to move out of the black and into the red.

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