Holiday Shopping: International Perspective

By Spencer Mann, Assistant Trending Editor

While the season of gift giving is present in much of western culture, the United States is almost unanimously credited as being the birthplace of the Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping extravaganza. Some states in the United States have adapted to recognize Black Friday as a public holiday. As Americans, it can be easy to forget about the rest of the world.

Throughout the world, Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) holiday sales have increased at a quickening rate since the rise of the internet. From 2015 to 2016, American sales rose by 16 percent during the Black Friday weekend, with a similar pace this year. However, the spike in consumption comes along with retailers increasing the amount of deals present. For much of the world, the discounts are significantly smaller. In the UK, the average reduction was only 9 percent during the Black Friday sale period. Part of the more modest enthusiasm involves Boxing Day, which historically has been the most significant day for discount shopping in the UK. Thirty percent of Canadians state that the deals during Boxing Day are superior to Black Friday. Recently, developing economies such as Brazil and India have taken part in the discount extravaganza.

One thing to consider when understanding holiday shopping sales around the world is the type of items that consumers seek. In Brazil, real estate and bank loans are some of the discounted items during Black Friday (and Cyber Monday, which is more popular in Brazil). 81 percent of purchases in Mexico were gifts for others. Considering the types of economies around the world, it is important to note that technology and clothing are not the most purchased items for many countries during the holiday season. With the differences in economies and goods for sale, many nations do most of their holiday shopping online, with brick and mortar retail being less frequent. 82 percent of holiday purchases in China were done on mobile devices, while in Canada was only 24 percent.

Many will be quick to argue that the holiday shopping season has perverted the traditional holiday spirit. When the focus of gift giving turns to gift receiving, it is easy to share the blame. Internationally, however, the holiday gift season comes in many different forms, making the conversation more complicated.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.

Contact Spencer at


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