Sunday, 26 September 2021

Shopkeeper wants no more ‘silly’ discounts

A HENLEY shopkeeper has called for an end to Black Friday-style sales after a customer asked

A HENLEY shopkeeper has called for an end to Black Friday-style sales after a customer asked for a 50 per cent discount on an item of clothing.

Gillian Nahum, who runs Boatique, a nautical clothing and gift shop in Friday Street, says the big discount day is “pointless” and could put independent shops like hers out of business.

She was not at work when the woman came into the shop on Saturday and asked to pay half the £145 price of an Italian cashmere poncho.

Mrs Nahum, who chairs the Henley Business Partnership’s retail group, said: “There was a lot of chatter online about Black Friday and how it was very difficult for the independent shops, so we decided to do ‘White Friday’ and decorated our windows all in white as a bit of a joke.

“On Saturday this woman came in. I wasn’t working but she spoke to my colleague. She went up to the counter and said she wanted her ‘50 per cent Black Friday discount’. My colleague quite rightly said to her, ‘do you go food shopping and ask for a 50 per cent discount?’ She replied, ‘well, of course not’ and he just said ‘well then’.

“She then left the poncho on the counter and walked out. I thought it was rude in the extreme. I think she was just searching for a good deal and it wasn’t the first time that’s happened to us. People who behave like that are just inviting our demise.”

Mrs Nahum, who also runs Henley Sales and Charter, said she thought Black Friday, when high street and online retailers offer huge discounts, was “silly”.

“I don’t know why we have imported this from the States,” she said. “I’d like to see the end of it, I think it’s pointless.

“This is the one period of the year when all shops are making an effort to look fabulous, take on extra staff and make a bit of money. If somebody asks for a discount we’ll say, ‘we’re really sorry, we’re a small independent shop’.

“I’m very upfront with people about what our margins are. Basically, a shopkeeper will multiply the purchase price by 2.4. The 0.4 is VAT and the rest of it pays the rent and staff and, if you’re lucky, you might find a tiny bit of profit there.

“Most independent shopkeepers will tell you there’s no profit in it and everybody is hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The point of independent shops is they are started by people who are passionate — they are people people, who love interacting with the public.”

She said she had also experienced people telling her they could buy a product cheaper online. “You actually get people photographing the product barcode and then they go home and buy it online,” she said. “You’re acting as an advertisement for a brand. It’s frustrating but I think it’s inevitable.”

Mrs Nahum does offer deals such as a free drink at the Hot Gossip coffee house next door with every purchase.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Staion Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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