The busiest shopping day of the year in the United States has become big business in Switzerland. But, some worry about the risks of consumers falling into debt and the pressure the Black Friday “holiday” puts on employees and the postal service.
It wasn’t until five years ago that Black Friday, which falls on the Friday after American Thanksgiving (this year November 29), started appearing in Switzerland. Many retailers now combine this with Cyber Monday to offer a full weekend or even a week of huge discounts.
This has turned into a big pre-Christmas shopping boom at the end of November that leads some people to spend beyond their means according to an article in the German-language paper NZZ am Sonntagexternal link.
"On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 10 to 15 times more customers applied for (credit card) limit increases than on an average day," explained a spokesperson for Viseca, which issues credit cards to various Swiss commercial and cantonal banks. This year Viseca sent clients instructions on how to increase their credit limits.
This is raising alarm bells that big discounts could promote shopping addiction and indebtedness. “People who are just able to keep their budgets under control run the risk of falling debt on days like Black Friday," said Mario Roncoroni of the Bern debt advisory service.
While there are no official turnover statistics for the holiday, Swiss Post processed 6.8 million packages last year during the Black Friday period – more than ever. Sales of electronic goods doubled from 2015 to 2018 during the Black Friday week.
Some retailers look forward to the holiday with some trepidation. "Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a big challenge for us. Especially for our employees," explained Florian Teuteberg, CEO of the online department store Digitec-Galaxus. The company processes six times more transactions during Black Friday than on a normal day.
Teuteberg adds that "you don't have many alternatives. You just go along with it. The traffic is immense. It would be careless to let this pass us by.