CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Tech Industry

Black Friday goes global as retailers import the US spending holiday

Thanksgiving may be American, but sales in the UK, France, Germany and China show the consumer frenzy is becoming a broader phenomenon.

German electronics retailer Saturn touted Black Friday deals on its Web site.
German electronics retailer Saturn touted Black Friday deals on its Web site. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

PARIS -- Turkeys are American. Cranberry sauce is American. But another element of the Thanksgiving ritual no longer is: Black Friday.

Across Europe and Asia, deals popped up in stores and online the day after the US holiday. It's not at the same scale, but the confluence of consumerism and capitalism isn't confined to the United States.

In France, electronics retailers like Auchan and FNAC promoted deals online deals while Darty took its displays outside its stores, too. The Académie française likes to keep foreign jargon out of the French language -- coining the word "ordinateur" to keep "computer" at bay, for example. But retailers preferred the very American term "Black Friday" to "Vendredi noir" in their promotions.

In France, retailer Darty promoted sales on the Friday after the US Thanskgiving holiday.
In France, retailer Darty promoted sales on the Friday after the US Thanskgiving holiday. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Meanwhile, in Germany, Saturn touted what it called "black weekend," promoting cameras, routers, computers and memory cards.

As befits the country's close ties to the US, the United Kingdom's Black Friday came closest to what happens across the Atlantic: UK police had to restrain mobs at some Tesco stores.

And Louise Haggerty, a 56-year-old hairdresser and waitress, told the Guardian that supermarket Sainsbury's was "crazy" and "disgusting" during her overnight trip. "I got a Dyson, but I don't even know if I want it. I just picked it up," she said.

It's not hard to see why retailers would like to encourage herds of consumers to open their wallets in an annual ritual -- especially in Europe, which has struggled to recover from the economic crisis that began in 2008.

In the US, 140 million shoppers will turn out this weekend, the National Retail Federation estimates. Last year they spent $57 billion over the weekend, the federation said.

"Based on our experience working with 8,000 global brands, we are seeing retailers across the globe increasingly adopting American shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as they work to extend the holiday shopping season, incent consumers to spend more, and improve holiday profits," said Jay Henderson, director of IBM Smarter Commerce effort to help retailers' businesses.

French electronics retailer Auchan embraced the US term "Black Friday" for its online promotion.
French electronics retailer Auchan embraced the US term "Black Friday" for its online promotion. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now the two biggest shopping days of the year for UK retailers, IBM said, with promotions driving up 31.6 percent compared to the year earlier.

Retailers including Macy's, American Apparel and Gilt Groupe are trying to export Black Friday to China, too, the Wall Street Journal reported -- at the same time China's Alibaba is trying to export the 11.11 singles-shopping day outside the country.

"We do know many of our customers and other retailers have invested heavily this year in promoting Black Friday and other holiday promotions to their international audience," said Custora, an e-commerce analytics company.

Black Friday is a convenient term, but in recent years, actual spending has spread to the entire week. First came Thanksgiving itself on Thursday, then retailers pushed steadily earlier to try to get a jump on competitors.