Is Black Friday the new September? 

  24 November 2019

September isn’t what it was. Years ago, when there was just one registration plate change a year, August was the mega-month for retailers. Who remembers pictures in the local papers of people taking delivery at a minute past midnight? The excitement of spotting your first ‘new-reg’ car on August 1 was almost as thrilling.

Then things changed. First, two registration plate changes a year were introduced, to use up the remaining letters. After the final Y-plate, the current year identifiers went in September 2001: the first was 51, followed by 02 in March 2002.

Despite early predictions, it gradually became clear car buyers cared far less about having the latest year than the latest letter. The half-year ‘5’ (and now ‘6’) letters are particularly unloved. As such, September is no longer a particular focus for OEMs and retailers – habits changed, and March has become the peak month of the year.

So where can those looking for a late-year boost now look? Cue Black Friday, the American import that started with people fist-fighting over TVs in supermarkets, and is now spreading ever-wider into UK retailing. When is it? The Friday following Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

It’s the perfect opportunity for car retailers to join the hype. Not least because the headline savings on cars can far outweigh £150 off a TV. A healthy £5,000 off a model on runout could dominate local headlines – free exposure and positive press by a simple rebrand of an existing offer.

Consumers are increasingly getting into buying mode for Black Friday. Auto retailers should embrace this, and exploit the willingness to buy big-ticket items in a quiet period. Savvy firms are already being smart with their promotions, and benefitting from the late-year boost as a result.

September is no longer the boost it once was. How can you instead carry over some of those ideas into the following quarter, and benefit from the Black Friday bonanza? Get it right and we could even start to see a new front page news story start to emerge: people sleeping outside retailers to get the best Black Friday car deals.

So why not start this week? Act fast and grab the opportunity? Perhaps it’s time to get the executives in on overtime, the free hot chocolate ordered and the local PR and social media activity planned…


Richard Aucock

Editor, Auto Retail Agenda

imageTags: Black Friday

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