America invented Thanksgiving, but it has mostly kept that holiday to itself. The day after Thanksgiving, however, is another story.
Black Friday originally marked the transition from one holiday into another, from the harvest into the Christmas shopping season. At one point, the date of Thanksgiving was moved to make the shopping season longer, locking in the holiday at the fourth Thursday of November.
Black Friday as we know it did not originate for another two decades. Then, in the 1960s, retailers saw an opportunity to drive revenue by making the start of holiday shopping an official event. The name “Black Friday,” of course, came from the numbers entered on ledgers: black for profits, red for losses. The Christmas season was often the first time all year that retailers reached profitability.
The rest of the world must have decided it was a good idea to kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang, because today, Black Friday has spread across the globe. You can thank eCommerce for that: Amazon.de delivered the experience to Europe, and soon native retailers were picking up the imported tradition left and right.
Many retail authorities have their theories about the future of Black Friday, portending that the shopping holiday is either dead or dying. At the very least, it seems to be morphing into more of a “Gray November” with deals starting earlier and earlier.
While that may be the case in America, other countries that were later to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon may be just getting started.
Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, France and the Netherlands have embraced Black Friday with open arms over the past few years, thanks to Amazon’s campaign to introduce the holiday overseas, which began in 2010. This year, Amazon has launched dedicated Black Friday eStores in each participating European country.
Meanwhile, domestic retailers are sending out their own notices about sales. Recent newsletters delivered to customer inboxes contained 20- and 30-percent off discounts. Many European retailers have even kept up the American tradition of starting sales as early as Thursday evening in some cases.
According to news from Dispatches Europe, British shoppers alone will spend around 1.8 million pounds per minute on Black Friday, for a grand total of 10 billion pounds over 24 hours. The holiday has surpassed even Boxing Day as the most popular shopping day of the year – though the same is not true in Canada, where around a third of consumers still feel the best deals are found on Boxing Day.
China doesn’t have Black Friday, but it does have Singles Day, which is kind of the same thing. In 2016, the first five minutes of Singles Day generated more than $1 billion in sales, according to an infographic by MarketingProfs. Alibaba, China’s eCommerce giant, did $15 billion in sales over the first 18 hours.
Tokyo, Japan is already regarded as one of the world’s top shopping destinations, so adding Black Friday to the mix just makes it that much more desirable. People travel to Tokyo from neighboring countries just to take advantage (although, wouldn’t the airfare outweigh any possible savings?). According to CheapOair, even supermarkets want to get in on the action along with the shopping malls.
Brazil boasts one of the most epic Black Friday shopping experiences in the world – and it’s only been observing the holiday for five years. Many retailers advertise “Black Friday week” specials rather than restricting deals to a single day.
But in Brazil, it’s not just about shopping. Real estate brokerages put discounted properties up for sale, knocking off as much as 30 percent of the price through the end of November. Bank loans, too, see an uptick during the week.
Ebit’s Claudia Sciama told Bloomberg that stores are leveraging Black Friday to beat sales targets, while consumers are making up for repressed shopping needs in the nation’s third year of economic contraction.
On top of that, Bloomberg notes, Brazilians collect their “13th salary” around the time of Black Friday – an additional month’s worth of income paid at the end of the year, by law. Nothing incentivizes shopping quite like a payday, especially when it hits the wallet like free money.
Meanwhile, Black Friday seems to be quite a trend in some of the more touristy islands. The Cayman Islands, for instance, have been heavily pushing deals this month under the “Black Friday” name.
Across much of South America, however, Cyber Monday wins out over Black Friday in terms of popularity, particularly in Argentina and Chile.
The MarketingProfs infographic includes statistics for miscellaneous countries that see a boost in popularity on Black Friday. These include Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine, Romania, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates, which refers to the holiday as “White Friday” instead.
Though the U.K. has cooled somewhat to Black Friday, and the trend is positively old and gray in America, it appears to have some good legs left in the rest of the world.