MANY customers will welcome the decision of Leeds-based Asda to opt out of the so-called ‘Black Friday’ pre-Christmas sales frenzy.
Like Halloween, this is an American export which can bring out the worst in people, as exemplified by those shoppers literally fighting in the aisles like football hooligans for ‘bargain basement’ goods.
It should be up to individual stores to determine their marketing strategies rather than following the herd – Asda clearly intend to play the long game and offer £26m of savings over an elongated period rather than on one manic day. Its decision is even more significant because the supermarket’s American owner, Walmart, was one of the first to embrace the ‘Black Friday’ phenomenon on this side of the Atlantic.
That said, the decision of Scottish National Party MPs to effectively use their Parliamentary veto, and curtail Government plans to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales, is less welcome. Opening hours should be a matter for elected mayors and town halls, as Chancellor George Osborne’s proposals intended.
After all, it is local councillors – accountable at the ballot box – who know whether granting superstores, like Asda, permission to open for longer than six hours will be beneficial to the high street or have a detrimental impact on the viability of those independent shops who are struggling to make ends meet because the financial stranglehold of the major retailers is so tight, and become even tighter, because of the internet.