Black Friday — falling on 24 November this year — is gaining momentum in France.
The day of intense promotions — which originated in the US and has been heavily promoted by e-commerce giant Amazon overseas — comes each year the day after Thanksgiving and has been known to cause chaos and minor injuries amongst customers.
Despite not being completely anchored in French consumption habits, the International Chamber of Commerce said Black Friday has had a “lightening breakthrough” in France, growing from just three percent of sellers taking part in 2014, 10 percent in 2015 and 44 percent last year.
This year it’s expected to be even bigger.
Online spending in France this Black Friday will be up 15 percent on last year and up four percent in shops, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research.
It found French shoppers will spend around €845m online and €4.5bn in shops this weekend.
As Black Friday becomes increasingly popular in France large retailers, both online and offline, will be offering discounts up to 90 percent.
According to Greg Zemor, founder of e-commerce consulting firm Net-Even, 79 percent of buyers will participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday in France.
It’s important for retailers to have an exact date when they know their sales will increase for the Christmas season. This means they can plan ahead in terms of stocks and fulfilment. As cross border trade is increasing, France wants alignment with other countries for the starting point of Christmas sales — Black Friday.
However, Amazon is the main driving force behind it the day’s exponential growth.
Amazon France sold 1.4m products within 24 hours, equivalent to 970 products per minute on Black Friday last year.
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Amazon is now starting offers earlier, with Black Friday Week beginning on Monday to prolong the discounts.
This year, the online retailer has also introduced flash sales in France. Shoppers will receive a notification when the next range of offers will become available online. Roughly 5,000 promotions will be offered, on items ranging from fashion, to technology, to home ware.
Since the early 2000’s, US-based retailers like Amazon, have attempted to push Black Friday through to the UK and other parts of Europe.
Zemor told Verdict:
Black Friday promotions are very important for competition. If a retailer doesn’t do promotions around Black Friday, they won’t get Christmas buyers or traffic on their website.
Asda, a subsidiary of Walmart, launched its Black Friday campaign in 2013 in the UK. In 2014 the likes of John Lewis and Argos got on board.
Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and those further afield such as Colombia, Nigeria and South Africa all began using Black Friday to whip people into a frenzy of spending.
Black Friday arrived a year later in the Netherlands and finally hit Poland, Greece, the Ukraine and Belgium in 2016.
According to Zemor, Black Friday took a while to become popular in Europe because of cultural differences with the US
While Europe doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we can see the same thing with Halloween, which arrived in France almost ten years ago, but is still not widely celebrated.
Although Zemor believes “there is a lot of excitement surrounding Black Friday” in France, he said it won’t become “as crazy as the US” where people regularly get injured trying to score Black Friday bargains.
It’s thought seven people have been killed and nine injured due to Black Friday since 2006 in the US.
Retailers also began to extend working hours in recent years, with some shops opening at 5am or even at midnight on Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday discounts will be available at Walmart from 6pm on the day of Thanksgiving.
Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts are three states which introduced so-called blue laws, preventing large shops and retailers from opening on Thanksgiving.