Black Friday Spreads Beyond America’s Borders

Dimitris Glezos
December 4, 2015
5 min read

Black Friday has become an infamous occasion that some may argue is even more popular than the day preceding it. While there’s some controversy as to whether or not the holiday that revolves around showing gratitude and being thankful should be exploited by retailers, there’s no arguing that shopping on Black Friday is just as much of a tradition for many American families as turkey is on Thanksgiving. Did we say American families? We meant families all over the world.

The Beginning of a Global Phenomenon

Despite the fact that it’s just an ordinary Friday following another Thursday in most other countries, international shoppers are being drawn in by the heavily discounted prices offered by American retailers. In a recent article published by the The Atlantic, Europeans who want to take advantage of the day’s amazing deals are boarding eight hour flights in the middle of the night, crossing the pond just in time to wait in line with East Coast shoppers.

Although some may argue the above mentioned scenario could be an isolated incident of a few crazed shoppers looking for the next best deal, the travel and hospitality industry has recognized such a high demand for these overnight outings that packaged tours have been created, specifically catering to foreigners who want to participate in the year’s Black Friday sales.

And it doesn’t stop there. Stores around the world are adopting Black Friday, holding their own sales during America’s Thanksgiving weekend to compete with American retailers. The U.K. is partaking in their fifth Black Friday, with the weekend’s total spending estimated at over $3 billion. Stores in France, Brazil, and Pakistan are also following suit, offering discounts and unbelievable prices on everything from clothing to electronics.

It’s no longer just about snagging the year’s hottest items at bargain prices, Black Friday is a cultural spectacle that’s spread overseas.

Technology Exports American Retail Culture Abroad

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the highest days of sales that we see from all the way around the world,” said Michael DeSimone, CEO of Borderfree, a company that partners with American retailers, helping them to collect taxes and tariffs while also working to facilitate shipping to international customers.

The Internet has made it possible for shoppers to embrace Black Friday no matter where they are, which brings up the emerging and apparent need for American retailers to offer multilingual digital content. While shoppers may be compelled to purchase from a retailer on Black Friday because of deeply discounted items, a website that presents content in the shopper’s native language could compel a repeat purchase on any other day of the year.

High-end retailer Saks Fifth Avenue references data from the entire calendar year, showing that while there’s a noticeable spike in international purchases on Black Friday, there’s a significant amount of international sales done in Canada, Australia, Russia, Asia, and the Middle East year-round.

For retailers that appeal to an international audience, localizing websites and mobile apps can go a long way in appealing to foreign customers — gaining their trust, initiating brand loyalty, and creating repeat purchases. And with DeSimone sharing that the third reason international shoppers buy from American retailers is “so people think [they] recently went to the United States”, it’s clear that the potential for increasing international revenue is not just a fad.

Mobile Predicting New Consumer Trend this Holiday Season

In keeping with the topic of technology, it’s important to bring attention to the shift in U.S. buying preferences. Shoppers are moving away from making in-store purchases and are instead showing a preference for buying online. According to data released by Adobe, shoppers spent $4.45 billion online on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. These numbers, based on aggregated and anonymous data from 150 visits to 4,500 retail websites, don’t even include Cyber Monday sales.

Along with desktop computers, tablets and smartphones account for a number of the online Black Friday weekend purchases. With retailers upgrading their mobile shopping experience, maximizing the space afforded by larger mobile screens and taking advantage of high-speed data plans, this is one of the first years where smartphones have disrupted the landscape for retailers. This trend is one that doesn’t appear to be going away, and could change how shopping is conducted, not just during Black Friday and the holiday season, but year-round.

Want to Reach Customers Around the World?

Whether you have a retail website or are simply interested in targeting and connecting with global consumers, learn more about what it means to localize by visiting our website at You can also find out how our platform can help you translate your digital content into multiple languages by scheduling a personalized demo with one of our team members. Happy shopping — or in your case, selling!

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Dimitris Glezos
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