Not all the retailers in Tunbridge Wells embraced the spirit of Black Friday with a number of them staging their own events protesting about the discount days that started last week.
Stores that did take part, though, hailed it as a ‘great kick-off to Christmas’.
Traditionally Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US that is said to be the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, going from being ‘in the red’ to being ‘in the black’.
Among those who declined to take part this year were clothing retailer Fat Face, cosmetics retailer Lush, and Vinyl Revolution, the new-to-town vinyl record store.
Launching Bowie Friday, Vinyl Revolution raised money for the MacMillian Cancer Support.
Co-founder Rachel Lowe said: “We regard Black Friday as a cynical marketing import which solely benefits large chain stores. Smaller, independent shops cannot afford to compete”.
The Camden Road store ‘celebrated the life of an incredible man’ by playing David Bowie songs, selling his records and wearing custom designed Bowie t-shirts.
An in-store event called Thanks for Giving replaced Black Friday in Fat Face branches with money going to charities.
Each shop donated part of their profit to the Fat Face Foundation and a charity of their choice.
The Calverley Road branch picked Nourish Community Foodbank, with in-store activities including a children’s lucky dip, a raffle and an exercise bike.
Lush in Royal Victoria Place Shopping Centre, created a new bath bomb with donations going to Access Now that fights for secure digital communications.
Trainee Manager Tilly Meteyard said: “Lush has lots of clever quirks. We even closed our online store for two hours on Friday just to make a statement”.
Many stores that did take part in Black Friday benefitted from increased trade.
Typically, Barsley’s in Paddock Wood offered discounts up to 50 per cent off, with a few at 70 per cent.
Director Alice Barsley said: “It proved very positive for us. Income remained high and we’ve found it draws new customers in.
“People weren’t only here for our bargains, but also to scout for other things like gifts. It’s a great kick-off to Christmas”.