Demand Fluctuations: Black Friday shows us the dark side of discounting

Last week, UK retailers came under attack as herds of angry bargain hunters mobbed stores across the country. As supply shortages and availability issues fuelled rioting in supermarkets across Britain, questions have to be raised as to how prepared businesses were for the impact of the infamous “Black Friday”.

While this annual event has been adopted from America, Black Friday has become one of the most important dates in the British retail calendar. Last Friday alone, British shoppers spent a staggering £810 million. Given that cyber Monday followed just two days later, the UK retail industry saw a £1.4 billion boost over the weekend.

Unprecedented demand results in mayhem

Although Black Friday brought a much needed influx of sales, the discount day did not come without its problems. As shops opened on Friday morning and huge crowds descended upon stores up and down the country.

As shoppers rushed to pick up the best of the bargains, the sudden surge of people caused mayhem. In some stores, the chaos was so severe, the police had to intervene in order to re-gain control. To further exacerbate the issue, some stores quickly ran out of stock of the best selling items, much to the frustration of the angry mobs.

Proactive approach to demand

While UK retailers struggled to keep customers under control, it seems American retailers took a far more proactive approach to Black Friday demand. For example, an employee from the American Retail group, Target, shows how UK businesses should have prepared for Black Friday. Giving a powerful speech before opening the store to Black Friday shoppers, the store assistant spurred his fellow colleagues to prepare for the challenges that lay ahead.

Although this call to action may seem fairly trivial, perhaps if managers further up the supply chain had also identified how the huge peak in demand would impact operations and prepared accordingly, stores could have been better positioned to handle the sudden demand fluctuation.

Considering the carnage of this year’s Black Friday event, what steps will you take to ensure your operations are prepared to meet major demand fluctuations in the future?

Author: Miss Inventory

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