A French Black Friday

By Rija Tayyab

While Black Friday remains an American capitalist phenomenon, retailers around the world have moved to take advantage of the business practice. Countries like France, the U.K., and Germany do not have a cultural history attached to the holiday or even a day off but have seen a rise in retailers, international and local, offering Black Friday deals. Customers have rushed to take advantage of the strategically placed sales right before Christmas.

 

In France however, retailers face a more nuanced and difficult challenge. The the name “black friday” had been introduced to French culture not long ago when the Islamic State carried out brutal attacks in Paris leaving 130 people and even more wounded on Friday the 13th, 2015. Thus, retailers had to come up with a new way to introduce the consumer event. Enter a new era of innovative names for the traditionally American event. Brand Alley went for “White Friday” while Auchan seemed to think “Crazy Weekend” was more appropriate. “Les jours XXL” is also a name that is popular with French stores. Both international and local brands were thus forced to rethink their Black Friday marketing campaigns.

 

While the plethora of names and connotations may be confusing for the French who are accustomed to traditionally spending during Christmas and the new year, it may signal an adaptation of the Black Friday custom. Consumer survey data suggests that French consumer spending will increase by 47 percent this Black Friday weekend over last year’s, implying a growing French acceptance and recognition of the shopping holiday. It is also safe to assume that a mainstream word for Black Friday will soon catch on in France and with it give rise to a wholly French shopping experience this time of the year.