Last week Americans enjoyed their long holidays. The Thanksgiving celebration formula is quite familiar to European retail and e-commerce observers.

Thanksgiving is celebrated on Thursday, and afterwards on Black Friday people crowd on shopping malls to hunt for special promotions. On Monday, after returning to work after four-day holiday, people buy all the remaining discount items online that are still available.

These “traditional” date boundaries have been fading away in recent years, however. Friday’s sales were first moved to begin on midnight, and lately many stores have decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving evening. Cyber Monday sales, in turn, already began on the weekend.

Record-breaking online sales

The Thanksgiving sales figures have been waited nervously in the United States, because they reveal the consumer confidence in the economy. In the light of the figures available on Monday morning, it seems that Black Friday sales have been slightly weaker than expected.

Despite aggressive electronics and clothing discounts, millions of American consumers decided to stay at home on Friday. This, if anything, will put more pressure on online commerce during the remaining weeks of the holiday season.

While shopping malls did not reach the forecasted figures, online sales experienced strong growth. We will get Cyber Monday’s figures later, but even Thanksgiving Day’s sales grew by more than 30 per cent, and broke the billion dollar mark. Similarly, Black Friday’s online sales grew by 26 per cent, resulting a record-breaking $1.5 billion in sales.

Black Friday in Finland?

The idea of November’s last Friday as a special discount day is gaining popularity in Europe also. This year there has been more mentions of Black Friday in Finland then any other year.

In Europe, Black Friday is mostly an e-commerce event. Major European e-commerce players, such as the German fashion store Zalando, are introducing the concept to the old continent. If Black Friday continues to gain popularity, Finnish merchants will also have to participate.

News story in Helsingin Sanomat highlighted some obstacles for Black Friday’s popularity in Finland, though. First of all, the date for the event is not optimal for Finns – the Black Friday being an ordinary working day. Many stores will rather focus on the first week of December when Finns received their refunds from the government for overpaid taxes.

The new article also quite funnily tells that Musta perjantai – Black Friday is actually a registered trademark in Finland, owned by the company of a former professional rally driver.

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