BLACK Friday bargain hunters are being urged to buy from the websites of high-street stores this week.
The shopping bonanza always offers some amazing deals — but this year many much-loved retailers are struggling to survive.
Some firms have already gone into administration or slashed jobs due to competition from internet giants such as Amazon — and then lockdown hit their profits.
Non-essential shops in England are currently closed under government restrictions at one of the year’s busiest trading times. But you can still give back to the high street by shopping at the right places when the sales event begins officially this Friday, and many deals have already started.
Guy Shone, of Explain The Market, said: “Black Friday is a chance to get behind our great British high street. Times are tough for many people in the midst of this pandemic, but Christmas has never been more important to spend money at our favourite stores.
“Our high-street shops are changing but they still employ huge numbers of people and play a vital role in our economy and our communities. Even though shoppers will be forced to browse online in the Black Friday sales because of lockdown, all of our major retailers have websites so there’s no reason they should miss out — and there are some fantastic bargains out there.
“I would encourage people to remember some of our oldest and most beloved shops as they do some early Christmas shopping. Companies like Amazon and Asos offer a great service but if we only focus on them the knock-on effect for the high street could be disastrous.”
Here, we list the best places to shop and speak to major retailers to find out what they can offer YOU.
PERFUME & COSMETICS
DEBENHAMS boss Steven Cook said: “While our stores in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain open with full safety measures in place, we have temporarily closed those in England, in line with government guidelines, and will also close some Scottish stores from this weekend.
“Black Friday is always a seasonal highlight for us as it really kicks off the Christmas gifting season and we have put a huge effort behind debenhams.com to support higher customer demand.
“We have also rolled out some additional services, such as our virtual beauty room – offering expert bespoke consultations online – and more delivery options, including a pick-up service in 4,500 local convenience stores across UK high streets.
“We hope by making shopping online with us as easy and convenient as we can for our customers, we will partly compensate for the lost traffic in our stores. We look forward to welcoming our customers back in store as soon as we are able and are supportive of proposals to extend opening hours when lockdown ends.”
CLOTHES & UNDERWEAR
A SPOKESMAN for H&M said: “Like a lot of retailers, we have been faced with many challenges following the onset of the pandemic, including closing the majority of our stores across the UK and Ireland.
“This year, for the first time ever, many of our stores will be closed on Black Friday, but we will have great offers online for our customers which we hope they will enjoy. Online will help keep the business strong and our logistics teams will ensure customer needs are met.
“But we still massively value our physical stores and know customers feel the same. We look for-ward to being able to reopen them soon for the Christ-mas season and to welcoming back our customers and colleagues.”
The Swedish company, set up in 1947, is the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, after Spain-based Inditex, which owns Zara. It has around 5,000 stores internationally but has been hit hard by Covid-19. It said last month it plans to close 250 stores next year. Last week it shut one in Bristol city centre.
BOOKS, DVDs, TOYS
JAMES DAUNT, boss of bookshop chain Waterstones, said: “We have a really good website so are doing OK but it is all too easy to click on Amazon, and that is a tragedy for the smaller, more vulnerable businesses.
“We all need support so we can keep going after lockdown. I’ve got shops in Barrow-in-Furness, Bury, Bolton, Blackburn. You can go through all of the Bs of the North West and then you go to Newport, Gwent, Grimsby – places where there has been a huge hollowing out of retail.
“We have kept ourselves there and I think this supports quite a few independents alongside us because we bring in the footfall, as do they.
“It would be awful if they were to be lost because they create so many jobs. We play a huge role in local communities and, incidentally, we don’t make a profit from some of those shops but we do it because it matters.”
HOTEL Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell said: “The strengths of shops are human contact, warmth and tasting. You cannot do these things on the internet.
“The key thing is that online-only stores don’t pay into the community in the same ways. One is the collection of local taxes to fund community investments and the other is being part of a neighbourhood and a group of people living together.
“There is something about walking down a lively high Street that puts a spring in your step, and if that isn’t there it is going to profoundly change the UK.
“I’m an optimist. I think the high street has a great future. It is going to change, for sure, but if you want good local stores you have to shop with them or they will not keep going.
“We have a huge responsibility and we aim at Hotel Chocolat to keep the whole family together. We are not knee-jerking into any redundancies and are holding it together pretty well at the moment.”