It’s been six years since Amazon imported Black Friday from the US to the UK, swiftly followed by Cyber Monday, and rather like the American grey squirrel once did to the native British red squirrel, it’s already eaten into the territory of British retail stalwarts such as Boxing Day and New Year.
Over the course of the period encompassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday, analysts expect £6.77bn to go through British tills, compared to £2.7bn spent on Boxing Day. Still chickenfeed though, compared to the $27bn expected to be spent in the US on Black Friday alone.
It’s worth remembering that in a European context, Black Friday is still very much a British phenomenon - Kantar Retail estimates that only 17% of British people haven’t heard about it, compared to 60% of France’s population.
That’s the wonderful thing about working in travel media and engaging with different clients and advertisers around the world - I get a real ground-level insight into their local cultures, business opportunities and consumer habits. For example, in a wonderful irony, since 2011 Mexicans have been encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the 1910 anti-capitalist revolution by spending loads of money in the shops the weekend before, on “El Buen Fin”. And they do!
If you’re South Korean and you want to avoid paying the hefty local tax on imported goods, you’re best off waiting till “Beufle”, the same day as Black Friday, but worth around $1bn to overseas retailers. In India retailers are still counting the profits from the month leading up to Diwali, a period when a local online retailer such as Flipkart expects to pocket $100m.
As I’m writing this, the Middle East is in the midst of “White Weekend”, a Souq.com sponsored frenzy of online consumerism ahead of the Dubai Shopping Festival which itself attracts 3m shoppers to the city.
But the daddy of them all is probably China’s “Singles Day” on November 11th, also known as “Bare Sticks Holiday” because 11/11 resembles a row of solitary people. A day which started out as an obscure anti-Valentine’s Day in-joke at a university in western China is now worth £14.2bn ($17.8bn) to Chinese retailers.
Of course, in an interconnected age even local retail occasions have a global impact. “Singles Day” comes hot on the heels of “Golden Week”, a seven day national holiday which this year saw a record 6m Chinese people travelling abroad and made Bicester Village the UK’s second most popular destination for Chinese tourists after Buckingham Palace. These same tourists are the ones that Bicester Village’s CEO recently announced spend 10x the amount a local does per shopping trip. Now, I don’t want to put my ad sales hat on here, but that’s millions of people, sitting on a plane, hell-bent on spending money….just saying.
Happy shopping…and spare a thought for the red squirrels!
4th March 2020