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Black Friday Goes Global – You Read it Here First

by David Crosbie , 11.12.2013

Shoppers in the US are accustomed to the Holiday shopping period beginning on Black Friday, often accompanied by chaotic scenes as bargain-hunters jostle to grab the best deals. It came as a shock to many Brits to see similar events unfolding in the UK this year, but in fact it’s something GfK Consumer Trends predicted might happen two years ago.

Back in 2011, we issued a Global Pulse newsletter to subscribers of our Roper Reports Worldwide service posing the question, “could Black Friday go global?” In the context of on-going economic gloom in much of the Developed world, and with the first signs of Black Friday offers seeping outside US borders to Mexico and Canada, we did some analysis using attitudinal and behavioural measures from our survey of over 35,000 consumers around the world.

We identified nine out of the 25 markets surveyed, besides the US, that were highly likely to be amenable to such discounting events. Consumers in these markets were more likely to be excited when they got a good deal, and to be price-led in purchase decisions. What’s more, they were more inclined to put these attitudes into practice, by saying they’d postponed a purchase until it was on sale or special offer, and shopped more at discount stores.

Needless to say, the UK was among the markets identified as having “High Potential” to adopt the Black Friday tradition. At that time, the day was virtually unheard of in the British Isles, although Cyber Monday, which follows Black Friday in a long weekend of record-breaking spending, was well established. This year, however, the retailer ASDA, owned by Walmart, decided to dip a toe in the water by offering special deals in-store on 29 November. The result was packed stores, quickly-cleared shelves and even some scuffles, despite it being a working day in the UK.

This year also saw greater Black Friday activity in Canada, another of the nine markets we identified, and we eagerly await 28 November 2014, to see if the phenomenon spreads to any of the others.  Of course it’s always nice when one of our predictions comes good. Our only regret is that dedication to duty prevented us from talking advantage of our prescience and being first in line to bag a bargain…