Black Friday has become a huge shopping tradition. Last year, more than 165 million Americans shopped online or in-store over the Thanksgiving weekend. 41 million of these shopped online only, while nearly 90 million shopped online and in-store. While US shoppers aren’t slowing down, savvy online sellers should look beyond this traditional Black Friday market. Global growth of Black Friday weekend has risen year on year with an average increase of 117% over the past five years. Online sellers need to think globally to take advantage of this trend. Let’s look at what countries celebrate Black Friday and what they’re buying.
The origins of Black Friday
November sales were popular in America long before the phrase Black Friday came about. In 1924, Macy’s department store was the first to promote post-Thanksgiving sales during its annual parade. Despite the Great Depression, Black Friday grew in popularity throughout the 1930s and, by the 1970s, it was widespread.
More recently, the weekend evolved to include Small Business Saturday for local stores, Cyber Monday for online sales and Giving Tuesday for charities.
Now, the phenomenon has spread to places where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated. Driven by multinational online retailers, Global growth of Black Friday weekend shows no signs of slowing down.
So what countries celebrate Black Friday?
In the early 2000s, Google searches for Black Friday outside of the US were practically non-existent. But since then, they’ve grown steadily. This year, Black Friday searches are trending most prominently in Romania, South Africa, Hungary, the UK, Ireland, Canada – and then in the US.
It just takes some driven retailers to kick off the trend, then shoppers and other retailers follow suit.
The global growth of Black Friday weekend is particularly evident in Germany and the United Kingdom
Black Friday in Europe
The infographic above shows that German sales increase on Black Friday more than any other country. Back in 2006, Apple was the first retailer to introduce a Black Friday campaign. Since then, Black Friday in Germany has taken off. Promotions usually last the entire week and, by 2016, sales grew to $2 billion.
91% of Germans know what Black Friday is and online deals are particularly popular with 54% of shoppers ordering online only. German shoppers’ top Black Friday buys are clothing, electronics and shoes.
Black Friday in France was introduced much later; perhaps, explaining why it hasn’t taken off in the same way. Black Friday in France focuses on electronic sales. In 2014, Apple and Amazon offered discounts in the first Black Friday campaigns. French electronics retailers quickly followed suit.
In Romania, where Black Friday is hugely popular, it was introduced by local electronics retailers and today the biggest Black Friday sellers are still electronics and appliances.
Awareness, interest and participation of Black Friday internationally has grown significantly in recent years.
Black Friday in the UK
In the UK and Commonwealth countries, the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) was traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. Boxing Day clearance sales still take place, but retailers kick off the Christmas shopping season with Black Friday.
In the UK, Amazon and Apple introduced Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2010. A range of UK retailers followed. Last year, the John Lewis department store reported record sales on Black Friday, with a notable spike in fashion and beauty. In the UK, clothing, cosmetics and jewelry are the most popular Black Friday products.
Black Friday in Canada
Because of its proximity to the US, Canada was one of the first countries to catch Black Friday fever. Many Canadians crossed the border to take advantage of the sales so retailers in Canada also began offering deals to attract these bargain hunters.
Although Black Friday hasn’t caught on everywhere, retailers in some countries have pulled together to create their own version of the event. Here are some for sellers to note:
- In India, retailers have invented several events to coincide with the Hindu festival of Diwali. For the festival, shoppers buy precious metals and cooking utensils
- Every November, Mexican retailers open late and offer promotions for El Buen Fin (The Good Weekend). Inspired by Black Friday, it takes place around Mexican Revolution Day
- Although Australians shop on Black Friday, they also have their own version of the event earlier in the month called Click Frenzy
- China’s Singles’ Day shopping event eclipses Cyber Monday in terms of online purchases
The Singles Day sale in China has eclipsed Cyber Monday in online sales volume
How sellers can increase sales internationally
- Sell globally on Amazon and eBay
- Offer free international shipping
- Ensure you’re using a high quality repricer to win the Amazon Buy Box
- Leverage email marketing, as ad rates soar for Black Friday
- Create product bundles customized to each market
- Include holiday and gift-related keywords in your listings
- Know what sells in each country on Black Friday and focus on markets relevant to you
- Simplify your process with a Black Friday checklist
Black Friday can be a hectic time for online sellers, with an increase in sales accompanied by an increase in returns and customer queries.
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Read more: Boxing Day Statistics
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