If last year's statistics are any guide, approximately half of the country is expected to participate in "Black Friday" today, with those who buy spending an average of almost $1,000 per person.
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Black Friday has become something of an institution. It crosses gender and age boundaries, albeit skewing slightly toward men and Millennials. According to Citypost Mail, a direct-mail company which recently released its research into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, men are more likely to wait for a better deal, especially on technology, while Millennials eschew the traditional crowds to scour e-commerce stores for deals on-line. Indeed, while retailers open earlier and earlier in an effort to outdo each other, most Black Friday shoppers will do their buying on-line - and most of those who shop on-line will be using tablets and smartphones.
What began in America to mark the start of the festive season in the 1950s is quickly turning into a global phenomenon. Consumers in Canada, Britain, and across the European continent will all today be pitched "Black Friday" deals that are "too good to miss." Many French retailers will translate it to "Vendredi noir," reflecting the French predilection for their own language, although "Jour XXL" (Day XXL) was popular last year. Spain knows the event as "Viernes Negro," while Germans will advertise "Black Week" and "Black Shopping."
China already has its own shopping day - "Singles Day" - on November 11th. Last year, more than a billion dollars in sales were made in the first five minutes of Singles Day, with Alibaba.com racking up $15 billion in sales within the first eighteen hours. Mexico recognizes Black Friday, but calls it "El Buen Fin" (The Good End).
India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates are all on board with Black Friday, although Emiratis call it "White Friday," in deference to the most important day of week in Islamic culture.
Skepticism characterizes Brazilians' reactions to Black Friday, with the advent of the nickname "Black Fraude" (Black Fraud) and the phrase that prices on Brazilian Black Friday are "half of the double." Elsewhere in South America, and especially in Argentina and Chile, Cyber Monday is more popular than Black Friday.
Apple extended its Black Friday deals to Australians in 2013, and the day is picking up in New Zealand as well. In Africa, on-line retailers have adopted the event in sales promotions of recent years.
For the most part, however, deals in the United States, at an average thirty-seven-percent off, are rather better than those available elsewhere. Citypost finds that discounts in Britain amount to an average of just nine percent, which accounts for the fact that Britons are expected to spend a total of seventy-five times less on Black Friday than Americans.
Britain, like Canada, used to prefer Boxing Day for shopping. Amazon.co.uk was first to challenge this, when it introduced Black Friday in 2010. Thirty percent of Canadians remain convinced that better deals are to be found on Boxing Day - but six-and-a-half million take Black Friday as a holiday, anyway, and more than a million will call in sick today.