No early rush in US as many go for deals online

NEW YORK • Relatively few early morning shoppers turned out on Black Friday in the United States to mark the start of the holiday shopping season, as more people picked up deals online and the traditional rush was split by stores opening the night before.

Retailers across Europe also chased shoppers during the spending spree brought to the continent by Amazon, particularly in Britain, where it has grown popular.

US shoppers had spent more than US$1.52 billion (S$2.1 billion) online by 5pm on Thanksgiving evening - a 16.8 per cent year-on-year increase in online spending, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracked 80 per cent of online transactions at the top 100 US retailers.

Research firm GlobalData forecast spending in Britain during the Black Friday period - Nov 20 to Nov 27 - would grow by 3.8 per cent year on year to £10.1 billion (S$18.1 billion).

In Britain, the annual promotional event, which previously focused on electrical goods, has been mainly played out online since 2014, when it was marred by scuffles in stores.

But British retailers also reported strong early demand.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all the debit and credit card transactions in Britain, had, by 10am (Singapore time 6pm), seen a 3 per cent increase in spending compared to Black Friday last year, and a 29 per cent increase in transactions.

After suffering their biggest decline in sales volumes in 41/2 years last month, British retailers were pinning their hopes on discounts to get shoppers - who are being squeezed by inflation and subdued wage growth - spending again.

In Germany, sales promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were expected to add around €1.7 billion (S$2.7 billion) to retailers' revenues, on a par with last year, a survey by trade body HDE found.

About eight million France-based consumers were expected to shop from yesterday to Monday, translating into expected revenue of around €945 million, according to a study conducted by Kantar TNS for US e-commerce firm eBay.

In Denmark, two supermarket chains, Bilka and Fotex, said their websites had been taken down by cyberattacks at the launch of their Black Friday campaigns.

Black Friday has also been growing in Italy. This year, all major retail chains are advertising discounts.

Black Friday, the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, was so named because spending would surge and retailers would traditionally begin to turn a profit for the year, moving from the red into the black.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'No early rush in US as many go for deals online'. Print Edition | Subscribe