Black Friday battles become a test of Corporate Social Responsibility

England’s leading retailers embraced America’s Black Friday sales strategy violently as November drew to a close

Images of mob-battles in search of bargains suggest this will be a test of how companies will respond to a challenge to their claimed code of ethical practices. As this was our first serious attempt in the UK to import this innovation, corporate planners may have assumed that it would be greeted by the tolerance always displayed by the English citizen queuing for services.

Hand to hand combat

What happened was a display of desperate consumerism. As the doors to the supermarkets opened, patient hours of waiting ended as hand-to-hand combat broke out in the battle for plasma televisions.

Like a desperate struggle for famine relief supplies

It was like a desperate struggle for relief supplies you see in famine relief films, one observer said.

Minor battle, few casualties

There were surprisingly few reported injuries, perhaps fewer than during a Manchester United training session. One shopper was reported as bombed by a television, and a few cars were damaged on the fringes of the battle, but the casualties were light.

Social media quickly showed not dissimilar scenes from America. No shoot-outs were reported in the struggles to secure the last iPad on sale. The first martyr celebrating Black Friday has yet to be chronicled.

For students of leadership

For students of leadership there are several matters for reflection. Will leaders show any convincing commitment to their claims of putting the customer first and displaying high ethical values? The social media storm seems to have caught them unprepared.

To be continued

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3 Responses to Black Friday battles become a test of Corporate Social Responsibility

  1. Tom says:

    Hi Prof Tudor,

    Thanks for the interesting read, particularly as I’m currently studying CSR.

    I like the quote from the observer, referring to the scene ‘like a desperate struggle for relief supplies’ especially because I’m sure most people at the events have perfectly good TVs.

    I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the subject:

    I think we will see very similar scenes next year on Black Friday. Looking after customers by having a managed orderly queue will probably not make a headline for a retail store, therefore not get them noticed for having a so-called bargain. Plus, there will be little fun for the media, or the over excited customer to get a TV the store has more than likely struggled to sell.

    For an event like Black Friday, because of the media and what people have seen in America I believe people not only go for the sale but also the experience and excitement of ‘hand-to-hand combat!’

    I’m sure the customers will be aware of the risks involved, especially after watching this year’s media coverage. Although, that doesn’t waver the fact that the retail store has a responsibility towards the consumer’s and their staff’s safety.

    Thanks, Tom

  2. Thanks for this most thoughtful comment.

    There did seem to be aspects of the frenzy during the riots last year.

    My understanding is that Tesco and presumably other retailers bought large quantities at discount prices, then advertised the sale [the event?] hard.

    Take a pinch of game theory and you might develop a plausible assessment of what might happen next year…

    good luck in your studies…

  3. Tviber says:

    Yes, I wonder how well the retailers deal with the crowds next year and how they choose to.

    Tudor, I have some questions I would like to ask you surrounding CSR which you may find interesting. I appreciate you’re busy, but if you can it would be a great help. If you feel you may find some time please contact me on the email details I used to sign up to your blog.

    Thanks – Tom

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