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2018 Black Friday: All Around the World

Autonomous Autonomous | Nov 22, 2018

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Black Friday has its roots in 1952. Marked on the day after Thanksgiving, the event is now held internationally in multiple countries. The actual name of the event was rooted around the year 2000. Until recently, Black Friday was seen on international television as the event in which US shoppers were rushing to get their hands on the latest electronics. However, the event has now expanded around the world. It is not a single day anymore as many retailers have a Black Friday period. Most importantly, Black Friday is continuously changing and it is now considerably influenced by online shopping.

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Black Friday around the world in figures

To put the figures in perspective, it’s worth knowing what US shoppers spend on a typical Black Friday event. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 174 million Americans shop around the Thanksgiving period. They spend around $5 billion during Black Friday. Online shopping is slightly higher in figures than shopping in physical stores. However, most shoppers actually purchase goods both online and offline during the Black Friday period.

The rise of online shopping has been in the spotlight over the past few years. The development of mobile technologies and smartphone or tablet shopping led to an increase in online sales. A 39% increase in purchases on smartphones was noted during last years’ event.

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This trend can also be seen in other countries. Powerful and developed economies follow the US in sales. The second country to spend large amounts of money on Black Friday is the UK.  There are over 7 billion pounds spent on last year’s UK Black Friday period. Germany spends 5.7 billion in online and offline purchases. France follows closely with 4.7 billion.

China has its own type of Black Friday. Celebrated on November the 11th, Singles Day started as a joke against Valentine’s Day where singles would buy themselves a gift. With over 200 million singles, China’s own version of Black Friday exploded. Around $25 billion is spent during the period.

Scandinavian countries have also started to like Black Friday events. Research data shows 78% adults in Denmark know about the event. Australia also holds Black Friday events. South America has various events. For example, Brazil is holding Black Friday discounts every year. It uses the English name for the event unlike Spanish speaking countries on the continent which look to offer deals on Cyber Monday.

Canada has a special relationship with Black Friday. Canadians living close to the US border travel abroad to get their hands on the best deals. At the same time, the Canadian dollar has reached parity with the US dollar and this lead to certain retailers offering their own Black Friday deals, especially to keep potential customers shopping in their own country.

Another large country which could see an increase in Black Friday deals in India. While the country might not see too much shopping being done at the moment, it is still reported that online searches of Black Friday deals reached 300.000 last year alone.

Increasing demand for online purchases also made retailers rethink their entire IT infrastructure. High traffic can come with multiple problems for online retailers. It is why so many websites are down during Black Friday.

Fast growth in the United Kingdom

As many American imports, Black Friday is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The state of the economy, the size of the country or the access to internet technologies might be at the core of this trend. Amazon was credited as the importer of the event in the United Kingdom. This was back in 2010. Since then, the event only grew for the online retailer. Local retailer Asda soon followed. Asda is owned by US-based Walmart. But regardless of the retailers, Black Friday sees UK prices drop for at least 24 hours for many leading retailers. Although Cyber Monday is also growing in popularity, UK shoppers are working with both online and offline shopping for the best deals. Many online retailers in the UK have experienced website crashes during the event. At the same time, the UK also marks the discount day as the event which launches Christmas sales.

Those shopping online in the UK can see the official launch at midnight between November 23rd and November 24th. Physical shops will most likely open their doors at around 6 AM. However, plenty of deals will actually be live before the official launch. Various products are sold during Black Friday in the UK. They range from heavily-discounted electronics to over 100.000 toys sold in just 24 hours.

Changing consumer habits

Black Friday has changed how customers shop. Expectations are high every year and the event is taking over some of the most developed countries around the world. Over 91% of Italians consider shopping both online and offline. However, only 21% of them actually find satisfaction in this combined shopping method. With the rise of online shopping, customers can find the satisfaction physical shops simply cannot offer anymore. Many retailers need to understand why customers are going online. A few reasons may include a shorter time spent shopping, so a more straightforward experience would be recommended for general stores.

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But the combination of generous discounts and their time limit is what drives many shoppers around the world to purchase goods on Black Friday with increasing sales being made online. So the top reasons for shoppers around the world to purchase goods on Black Friday include:


Considerable discounts are hard to ignore by most shoppers. They are the core of Black Friday around the world. As it can be seen both in the UK and in China, the discounts easily spread towards the consumers in the online segment. With a strong influence over how consumers get access to discount information, the online is one of the catalysts of the discounts around the world.

Products are often sold at a discount but still for a profit, both for the merchandise and for the manufacturer. At the same time, some discounts were reported not to be as great as initially advertised in some parts of the world. However, as it has been seen in the case of Canada, large retailers have seen that customers are willing to spend money abroad to get the latest deals and this meant changing their sales policies. Many large retailers then took the matter in their own hands and bought the customers back. This can be seen at a local level in multiple countries around the world which have their own interpretation of Black Friday, which can also be seen in China’s Singles Day sales event. With multiple countries already expressing the desire to join such events such as Italy, it is clear that Black Friday is only going to gain popularity and most importantly, the online part of the sales is going to represent at least half of the sales figures in most countries.


Financial reasons remain a real issue for many Black Friday customers around the world. While expensive household items are actually hard to purchase for many people, the event allows them to see some savings. However, not only those who are tight on cash are actually purchasing goods on Black Friday. Many businesses buying goods in bulk can also see some benefit to the event. In many cases, this means purchasing multiple items and a discounted price which means businesses can keep costs under control, even when investing in new gear or when updating old gear such as computers or office supplies.

But the financial aspect is not the most important aspect to drive sales on Black Friday as it has been seen in some developing countries where the interest cannot match the one in the United States. So Black Friday still remains an event with a limited time offer where customers feel they would be getting a good deal which cannot be had otherwise.


There’s a strong identity behind Black Friday, even if it is relatively new for many countries. But customers discuss the best discounts with friends or work colleagues and they represent one of the simplest and most efficient methods to increase the interest of potential buyers. In many countries, it is already a tradition to look forward to the sales. They are on the news, on social media and online retailers are sharing their adverts with great interest. The social side of the event is not to be ignored. Of course, the largest meaning to the tradition is still in the US, where the event is tied to Thanksgiving. Since most people are at home for the holiday, it represents a great opportunity to start looking for the best discounts.

This also brings the discussion of simply being able to enjoy the process of looking for the best deals, which is certainly the case with many customers across the world. Besides making the purchase, its research stages are what can drive customers to various retailers.

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International Black Friday marketing

When it comes to making the event popular, international retailers used many marketing techniques which are similar to those used in the US. Of course, it is sometimes the norm that these techniques are different, but many of them remain the same.

Shipping fees are important, especially for those shopping internationally. Canadians shopping in the US prior to 2013 had to deal with increased shipping fees. At the same time, large countries such as Brazil can also have high internal shipping fees. For online retail, attracting new customers can mean offer discounts on the product or on the shipping.

Coupons and discounts are also useful for those shopping internationally. There are various tools which are used for coupon discounts. In the UK, coupon companies are among the most important market research companies and since Black Friday is one of the most important events of the year, these companies can learn more about what consumers want on the local market just by analyzing coupon data.

It is also expected that the next Black Friday events will see an increase in online sales, especially with purchases made from mobile devices. This has considerably simplified the shopping experience across the world. With increasing technology use, dedicated apps and custom websites, mobile purchases are likely to be the most important area to follow for the next Black Friday events. Staying in line is still something people are willing to deal with, but maybe not in the same way than in the US. It is why many purchases being made online on Black Friday are made even before the event with various live offers.


Black Friday is increasing around the world. It is now present on all continents and it offers various types of online and offline offers. Customers seem to be looking forward towards the way in which the experience is simplified by online shopping. For many of them, this means that a mobile device can ensure a purchase is made, even when the event has not yet started, as market research shows in countries such as the UK.

As an imported sales event, Black Friday is less of a cultural tradition as it is in the US is tied to Thanksgiving and more of an event where people don’t want to miss a limited offer. This makes the event of the greatest when it comes to real sales. Internationally, Black Friday can also mark the beginning of the Christmas sales period, even if has not been made official at this stage. However, at the time of the event, most large retailers in the UK already release their special Christmas adverts, so in a way, the busy period has already started.

In terms of actually sold products, they remain similar across the world. Electronics, home goods, office supplies or toys are popular across the world. It remains to be seen how online shopping will integrate the changes in physical store shopping.

International customers who want to get the latest deal and offers from Autonomous can do so by subscribing with an e-mail address in the box below. All Black Friday deals and offers are available for shipping in various countries as well as in the US.

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