Spanish retailers import “Black Friday” in bid to lure in customers

Superstores, fashion brands and carmakers promise deep discounts in weekend sales

Amazon's warehouse in Peterborough, UK, ready for Black Friday
Amazon's warehouse in Peterborough, UK, ready for Black FridayBloomberg

Not even the sales are sacred anymore in Spain, it seems. Over recent years, larger retailers have benefited from the government’s gradual relaxing of opening hours. And in 2012, the government decided that retailers were free to offer discounts any time they like — although in practice most of them reserve their best deals for after January 7.

As a result, for the last two years Spanish retailers have also been trying to popularize a US custom known as Black Friday, which formally opens the Christmas season with a day of deep discounts.

El Corte Inglés, Spain’s foremost department store, has announced a four-day sales extravaganza

The retail giants Media Markt, Amazon, El Corte Inglés and a few Inditex brands tried their luck last year, and several more will do so this season, including Carrefour and Decathlon.

Black Friday is closely tied to US traditions: it is always held the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November. That Friday is always a bank holiday, and Americans take the opportunity to get started with their Christmas shopping.

The first businesses to start the Black Friday tradition in Spain were those with US headquarters. Amazon has been advertising it for days, and promises special offers on 25 products every hour “with discounts of up to 42 percent on a limited number of units.”

Some retailers, however, feel that one day is not enough. El Corte Inglés, Spain’s foremost department store, has announced a four-day sales extravaganza with up to 40 percent off on “a selection of brand-name clothing.”

Inditex, owner of Zara and other fashion brands, does not follow a group strategy and each brand will decide whether to hold a Black Friday or not. One of the biggest mysteries this year is what Apple will do, after offering some promotions last year.

Besides the retailers, travel agency Nautalia, carmaker SEAT and telecoms operator Vodafone are also planning special sales campaigns.

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