ON THURSDAY November 27, Americans all over the world will gather with their families around the dinner table for a massive feast to celebrate Thanksgiving.
This quintessential North American holiday is held on the last Thursday of November and owes its history to a religious tradition in which people give thanks to God for a fruitful harvest, good health and the year gone by.
Thanksgiving spent queuing
HOWEVER, these days the feeding frenzy does not stop at the dinner table. Vacating their homes for the mall, American families will sacrifice their Thanksgiving evening to queue for Black Friday – the date when the American retail industry kick-starts its Christmas sales.
It sounds terrifying – the sort of name that carries with it all sorts of negative connotations – and it often is as hordes of shoppers who have been queuing for hours are released at exactly midnight on Thursday.
Across the Atlantic
AND NOW the swarm is approaching our shores. As Americanisation increasingly invades Danish society – as the popularity of days like Halloween and Valentine’s Day suggests – many stores will be marking Black Friday themselves.
American feast days like these simply “fill the voids which exist in the Danish retail market”, observed Stephen Brugger, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark.
It started online
ELGIGANTEN, the electronics warehouse chain, is an example of a Danish company that has embraced Black Friday.
“We started our Black Friday sales online at elgiganten.dk in 2012,” explained Peder Stedal, the company’s chief executive.
“Our customers responded well to it. It has proven to be a great way for many Danes to kick-start the holiday sales well in advance, and last year we broke all our online records in terms of visitors and turnover.”
Meanwhile another electronics company, Komplett, launched online Black Friday sales in 2010 and has enjoyed similar success.
Coming to the mall
BUT FOR Black Friday to really become a permanent fixture, it will need the backing of the retail community, not just sole operators. So it is highly significant that Copenhagen’s second biggest shopping mall, Fisketorvet on the border of Vesterbro and Sydhavn, is this year embracing the trend by hosting a day of offers akin to the American experience.
“This is the first time Fisketorvet will play host to Black Friday,” explained the shopping centre’s manager, Jacob Bannor.
“The majority of our shops have shown great optimism in backing the concept, and we’re delighted that our customers will be able to save up to 75 percent on certain products.”
ACCORDING to Bannor, Black Friday will only get bigger.
“It’s gaining ground in Denmark with each passing year,” he said. “Supermarkets have slowly started to embrace it, which is further evidence that it is spreading.”
The key, Bannor continues, is Black Friday’s timing right before Christmas. Denmark has never had a specific term for pre-Christmas sales – normally, the focus is on post-Christmas sales.
“People are used to the terms ‘sale’ or ‘udsalg’, but for many they have become diluted due to there being many sales periods throughout the year,” contended Bannor.
“Black Friday as a term is instantly identifiable and signifies to the individual consumer that there is a lot of money to be saved.”
It will be civilized
BUT SHOULD Denmark worry that shoppers might get a little bit rowdy in their bid to get their hands on the limited discounts?
Stedal is confident they will behave themselves.
“Danes are a polite and easy-going people,” he said.
“So even though the offers might get crazy, we believe the people will behave just fine.”
- The term Black Friday is thought to have originated in Philadelphia in 1961 when police would refer to the traffic problems caused by the influx of shoppers as Black Friday
- A different interpretation suggests the ‘Black’ in Black Friday refers to the day retailers moved from negative to positive results: from red to black
- In recent years Black Friday has featured heavily on social media and video websites due to the carnage that often arises at American department stores
- The amount of money spent increases each year. In 2013, American consumers spent on average $413 – an overall net spend of $61.4 billion
Sources: Wikipedia, US National Retail Federation
Danish Christmas Sales
- Christmas is the busiest season for Danish retailers
- Dansk Erhverv estimate Danes will spend in excess of 7.6 billion kroner this year – the same amount as in 2013
- This equates to each household spending approximately 2,900 kroner including 1,370 kroner on presents
- 1.2 billion kroner, 16 percent of overall spending, takes place online
- Post Danmark has placed this estimate much higher at 2.2 billion kroner
Sources: Dansk Erhverv, Post Danmark