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Five ways you can benefit from Black Friday

GCR assistant editor Charlie Cook discusses maximising profitability while at the same time avoiding Black Friday becoming ?Punch-Your-Neighbour-for-an-iPad day?.

2014 was the year that large stores and supermarkets in the UK really jumped on the bandwagon of the American retail tradition that is Black Friday. Asda was blasted on social media for scenes of chaos?and Tesco had to call in the police?to control destructive bargain-hunters. It needn?t be this way.

There are plenty of approaches you can take to use Black Friday to your benefit without encouraging overwhelming greed and competition (whilst still incorporating it into your pre-Christmas effort). Here are five ideas for a better, calmer ? and more profitable ? Black Friday experience:

1: Focus your offers on Christmas gifts. Want to help remove the mindlessness that Black Friday can create? Then help customers focus on buying and giving to others ? while at the same time helping them make the most of their Christmas budgets.

This time of year is supposed to be about giving, so a sales event in late November in which Christmas gifts are discounted is clearly welcome.

2: Make ?winter gardens? a central theme. At this time of year, ?traditional? garden use decreases as the days get colder and the evenings darker. The ?winter garden? and all that goes with it ? outdoor heating and lighting ? is becoming increasingly popular, and a retail event like Black Friday can be used to bring it to the fore.

With that in mind, offers could also centre on the ?Christmas garden?, with lights, chestnut roasting, fire pits and cosy blankets. Through your efforts, customers may even be inspired to change their garden in ways they never considered before ? and continue to shop in ways they never thought of.

3: Help customers to get their dream garden. If promoted sensitively, there?s no reason Black Friday shouldn?t be about aspirational products. For garden centres, this includes hot tubs, garden rooms, water features and luxury outdoor furniture, all of which can be sold as a package, with the promise of a ?dream garden?.

4: Introduce a charity element. This year, pet retailer Pets at Home has announced that instead of Black Friday, they are holding ?Do Good Friday? which includes a number of charitable ventures in-store and donations to animal charities.

This clearly turns Black Friday on its head ? while at the same time offering massively good PR. Instead of consumer madness, it?s all about giving back (albeit, accompanied by festive sales in store), while at the same time positioning the business as the ?good guys? of Black Friday.

5: Don?t drive your customers to punch each other in the face. No one really wants to queue from the early hours of the morning to be jostled and shoved in the race to get a big screen TV. The intensity of the event, as ASDA?s decision not to get involved this year indicates, is silly and quite possibly counterproductive.

Being different about the whole thing therefore will be a welcome change from the daftness that the day seems to bring out. Use the unique attributes of your garden centre ? spaciousness, serenity, niceness ? to show why you?re special.

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