The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Dark clouds hover over Black Friday

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 14 November 2023

Christmas treats and decorations have been on display at Swiss retailers for weeks. And online retailers are also already courting bargain hunters for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other discount battles. This year, however, Christmas sales are threatening to be more difficult than ever.

Dark clouds hover over Black Friday
Shoppers on Black Friday, an American tradition marking the start of a traditional family weekend and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, photographed on Friday, November 26, 2021 on Bahnhofstrasse in Zuerich. (KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler)

“Same procedure as every year” is the famous line from the popular end-of-year sketch “Dinner for One”. The “same procedure as every year” also applies to the courting of customers in the Christmas business, starting with the discount campaigns around Black Friday, which takes place on November 24 this year.

Declining sales

According to market studies, stores and online stores make at least 20 percent of their annual turnover from this date onwards. As a result, hardly any retailer can afford not to offer discounts. But this has not always been the case. Bargain Day, which originated in the USA, only became popular in Switzerland eight years ago.

In 2015, Manor was the first major retailer to take part in Black Friday and offer its customers its first discount campaigns. Other retailers followed suit the following year. Since then, this trend has continued and intensified, at least until 2020. However, according to the BlackFridayDeals portal, sales stagnated at around CHF 500 million in 2021. Last year, the figure was only 480 million.

Cloudy consumer sentiment

And this year, too, there are some indications that the records set in the first year of coronavirus in 2020 will not be broken: “Consumer behavior is heading for a low point for the year,” according to a consumer study published on Tuesday by the consulting firm AlixPartners. Swiss retailers are threatened by weak Christmas sales because money worries are also weighing on consumer sentiment in this country – despite comparatively low inflation.

The latest figures from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) are also providing dark clouds in the sky. The consumer sentiment index published at the beginning of November for the final quarter fell to minus 40 points after minus 27 points in the third quarter of the year. The index thus fell even further short of the long-term average of minus 6 points. According to Seco, consumers were much more pessimistic than before about their own expected financial situation, among other things.

In the AlixPartners survey, a quarter of all respondents also stated that they wanted to spend less on presents than a year ago. A fifth are also planning to cut back on Christmas spending.

However, there is at least one ray of hope for the discount battle surrounding Black Friday: “It is to be expected that pre-Christmas discount days will become even more important this year,” explains Cornelia Brühwiler from AlixPartners. After all, those with less money in their wallets will probably try to redirect their consumption to the bargain day.

©Keystone/SDA

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