Billions of euros are to change hands in Black Friday weekend sales across Europe, but despite increasingly accepting the US import, the promotions will likely be marked by strikes, protests and concerns about overconsumption.
Here is how the sales, which stretch four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, are expected to fare in some of the continent’s big spenders:
After starting in 2015, the concept of Black Friday sales has now been taken up by all major retailers after wavering in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015.
The French are expected to spend 845 million euros (US$1 billion) online this weekend, a 15 percent increase since last year, and 4.5 billion euros in stores, a 4 percent rise, a report by the Centre For Retail Research for Web site Poulpeo showed.
However, buyers beware — the government Web site cybermalveillance.gouv.fr has urged shoppers to be wary over the weekend, when scams by cybercriminals multiply.
Some have also warned of the dangers of overconsumption.
Envie, a network of 50 French companies, launched a “Green Friday” initiative, while Web site Camif closed on Friday, saying it was “fed up.”
Shoppers in Germany have been seduced by Black Friday sales over the past several years.
Last year, 16 percent of consumers participated in the sales on Black Friday and 13 percent on Cyber Monday, spending 1.7 billion euros, according to the German retail federation.
However, US online retail giant Amazon.com Inc faces strikes at six of its warehouses in Germany by 2,000 employees demanding better working conditions, trade union Ver.di said.
Black Friday took off in Spain in 2012, when labor reforms liberalized sales.
Nine out 10 companies are to participate in the sales this year, according to the Spanish Digital Economy Association.
Even banks are joining in, offering discounted credit cards and home loans.
The average Spanish shopper is expected to spend 222 euros during the sales, up from 200 euros last year. Sales countrywide could reach 1.4 billion euros.
Faced with this rising consumption, some associations have encouraged people to boycott the sales, with little success.
About 14 million Italians were expected to take advantage of Black Friday sales, according to leading local business association Confesercenti.
A total of 1.5 billion euros was expected to change hands — an average of 108 euros per person.
Most of the sales take place online, but Black Friday is gradually gaining acceptance in brick-and-mortar stores, with seven out of 10 making special offers this year.
Along with Germany, some Italian Amazon workers were also to go on strike at a distribution center in Castel San Giovanni in the country’s north.
Greenpeace activists also protested in a Rome shopping center, using the symbol of a globe suffocating under the weight of consumer goods.
After a drop in the value of the pound, British shoppers might well welcome this year’s sales.
Britons were expected to spend ￡2.6 billion (US$3.47 billion) on Friday, up 8 percent from last year, according to forecasts by VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research.
Over the four days, as much as ￡7.8 billion will be spent — an increase of 7 percent, the forecasts showed.
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