Lifestyle & Culture

Black Friday 2018 (updated): Europe increasingly buys into American-style shopping frenzy

No turkey on this Thanksgiving’s Day in Europe, American expats. But hey, but at least there’s the definitive American holiday experience, Black Friday, calling to you whether you call Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna or Frankfurt or another great European city home.

Thursday, 22 November and Friday, 23 November, are just normal weekdays in Europe while America is celebrating Thanksgiving. Well, they used to be. Now Europe increasingly is buying into the American-style Christmas shopping frenzy starting as early as Thanksgiving evening.

Black Friday has become a thing in Europe literally overnight. In Europe, only 19 percent of people polled in the United Kingdom by American management company McKinsey & Co. had participated in Black Friday back in 2015 – compared to more than 50 percent by 2017.

Same deal in Germany, with nine percent of consumers surveyed getting involved in 2015 – jumping to 43 percent in 2017!

The survey shows the largest segment of Brits polled (37 percent) are budgeting between 200 and 300 pounds for Black Friday to make Black Friday purchases. Germans, not surprisingly, are a lot more frugal, with 21 percent of shoppers expecting to spend 200 euros, and only 14 percent planning to shell out 300 euros for Black Friday purchases.

So while there is no pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce on your dinner table in Germany, Austria or the Netherlands this Thanksgiving, European retailers are making sure you get the full Black Friday shopping experience.

Let’s go shopping!


For 2018, the most aggressive sales are in the travel sector. Almost every major airline including EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and KLM have their deals on their respective websites.

Ryan Air has an entire landing page dedicated to Black Friday deals, with flights for as little as 5 pounds.

British Airways also has some special offers to fly Brits to Europe’s Christmas markets.

The Independent has the most complete list of the many, many Black Friday/Cyber Monday offerings from airlines, travel discounters and train companies. Skyscanner also has a running list of deals.


On the retail side, European news sites including Tech Radar and, of course, the Express have big Black Friday posts for 2018 focused mostly on Amazon UK which is going all out with its “biggest ever” Black Friday event from 16 November to 25 November.

• The Telegraph has a guide to the best tech products expected to be on sale including 4k televisions and robots.

• The Express post predicts big sales on the Sony PS and PS4 Pro gaming stations for Black Friday.

• The Netherlands once again has its own website dedicated to tracking Black Friday deals … and you can buy through the website. Ditto for Germany, Sweden,  France and Italy.

(One of the major Black Friday complications is that Amazon in Germany doesn’t ship all items Europe-wide. See Dispatches latest post here on negotiating Amazon’s national websites.)

If you have subscribed to the newsletters of your favorite retailers in Europe, you were greeted recently with 20-percent off or 30-percent off Black Friday discounts in your inbox to make sure you don’t miss them … even if you somehow missed the big Black Friday promotions in shops in downtown shopping streets or your favorite shopping center.

Major retailers across Europe with Black Friday sales include:

MediaMarkt – The electronics chain has locations across Europe and Turkey

• de Bijenkorf – Netherlands

Zalando – the Berlin-based e-commerce giant that covers most of Western Europe and Scandinavia

• In Luxembourg City, there’s a city-wide shopping event with all the major retailers participating

As with last year, smart TVs, drones and the next-gen Amazon Echo are all big sellers for 2018.

Most of the sales will be running through “Cyber Monday,” and British shoppers alone are projected to spend about 4.7 billion pounds in total sales, online and bricks-and-mortar. pretty much brought Black Friday to Europe. Now, all brick and mortar shops on the high streets like Primark, s. Oliver, C&A, Nike and others are participating in stores and online. In Europe, we don’t expect crazy Black Friday crowds all the TV stations show, with American shoppers literally fighting in the aisles trying to get to that TV at a deep discount.

Expats, your European Black Friday experience might just turn out to be good for the pocket and more pleasant when browsing through the racks.

Here’s a curated list of crazy savings from Black Friday sales in Europe:

• As we mentioned above, Amazon is having big Black Friday sales, though you might not be able to get stuff delivered if you live outside Germany. Amazon is having daily deals that go live each morning as well as Lightning Deals just so you never leave their website.

• Ingolstadt, Germany-based MediaMarkt is the big electronics retailer in much of Europe. Surprise, they’re blowing it out!

The Black Friday backstory

Black Friday historically comes from the 1960s in the United States when retailers wanted to increase their revenue, inventing the Black Friday concept. It’s called “Black Friday” because the all-important Christmas season marks the point retailers generally reach profitability for the year, and bookkeepers enter positive revenue and returns into ledgers in black numbers. (Losses, of course, are recorded in red numbers.)

Black Friday was introduced in Europe several years ago by businesses who wanted to copy the successful model of American retailers. It has been gaining in popularity and is becoming an established business practice.

In Europe, Seattle-based Amazon is really pushing the concept of Black Friday into the consumers’ consciousness, an effort by the giant e-tailer that dates back to 2010. Throw enough marketing behind something and guess what … Black Friday has actually caught on in France and Britain in the seven years since they started.

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