Despite playing a key role in spreading the event from the US to the UK, Walmart-owned Asda has opted not to run cut-price promotional events, with chief executive Andy Clarke saying in a statement: "The decision to step away from Black Friday is not about the event itself. Over the past two years we've developed an organised, well-executed plan, but this year customers have told us loud and clear that they don't want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales."
Clare Pring, partner and managing director of Ketchum London’s brand practice, told PRWeek that Asda had made an interesting move.
"Black Friday can have a negative effect on profitability and on consumer demand for certain categories of goods well into the post-Christmas period," Pring said.
"Coupled with the fact that we’re predicted to see a good Christmas for sales generally, there’s less need for the deep price slashing of previous years. But make no mistake, Black Friday is here to stay, especially for online retailers such as Amazon."
By pulling out Asda will avoid negative press coverage that it experienced in 2014 when chaotic scenes took place at its Wembley superstore. Police had to be called to separate customers who were fighting over cut-price goods such as TVs.
However, the impact on its business is unlikely to be known until the next quarterly results.
Industry reaction to our story re Asda dialling down Black Friday is a general hooray and a brave decision - good for retail not just Asda— George MacDonald (@GeorgeMacD) November 4, 2015
So #Asda are foregoing Black Friday this year, not surprising given the debacle last year but saying £26M invested over the period is weak— Philip Dorrell (@phil_dorrell) November 10, 2015
Asda is not the only retailer that has expressed concerns about Black Friday. Despite the event driving the biggest trading week on record for John Lewis last year, the firm feels pressured to participate.
According to The Telegraph, Paula Nickolds, commercial director at John Lewis, said last month that the retailer had "no choice" but to be involved in Black Friday. "We are part of this whether we want to be or not," she said.