Black Friday, a discount shopping bonanza imported from the United States five years ago, appears to be meeting the expected consumer success in Switzerland this year, although not everyone agrees with it.
The phenomenon is now well anchored in Switzerland, with an estimated nine out of ten Swiss people aware of it, reports the Keystone-SDA news agency. Retailers are offering discounts of up to 50% to attract customers. Despite cutting profit margins, they expect to do well as this Black Friday falls just after pay day with four weeks to go until Christmas.
One novelty this year is that many retailers are stretching the discounts over a week rather than just a day, both for online and in-store goods.
"We started this year's Black Friday Sale more strongly than last year," said a spokesman for the Brack online specialist. Sales of electronic products accounted for the largest share. A spokeswoman for the Coop subsidiary Microspot also said demand was "enormous".
The Balexert shopping centre in Geneva, one of the biggest in western Switzerland, reported 85% of its car park full at midday and said it expected good business for its traders. Book, record and audio chain FNAC started its discounts for members on Thursday and reports online sales four times higher than the same day last year. It expects them to be five times higher this Black Friday compared with 2018 and “for in-store sales, the increase is about 30%”, according to FNAC director Cédric Stassi.
Jérôme Amoudruz, founder of the website Blackfriday.ch which tracks special offers across the country, says sales are “less concentrated this year because it started earlier. But we see customers have high expectations”.
Online advertising for Black Friday, soon to be followed by Cyber Monday, is also up 30% on platforms like Google and Facebook, boosting their advertising revenue.
The Swiss are expected to spend some CHF310 million ($310 million) during this Black Friday week, according to the GfK instituteexternal link.
But not everyone agrees with the consumer spending bonanza. The “Fair Fridayexternal link” movement encourages shoppers to make a contribution in favour of the anti-poverty charity Caritas. Young climate strikers in Geneva organized exchanges of second-hand clothes, and there were complaints about the burden on low-paid retail staff.
Many shops stay open for longer hours, but this has also been contested. A court in the western canton of Vaud, for example, ruled that shops in the lakeside town of Vevey could not stay open until 22.00 as planned on Black Friday, thus upholding a complaint by the labour union Unia.