Black Friday 2021: Live Updates

Black Friday is an American import that has spread across much of Europe, with retailers and shoppers embracing it as the opening trumpet to kick-start the holiday shopping season — even if Thanksgiving remains a distant holiday in the country.

But Black Friday takes different forms. Focusing on toy stores, here are three snapshots of the state of Black Friday in Europe.

Early this week, Clara Pascual was preparing to hang an advertising poster for the Black Friday sale on the front door of her family-owned toy store in central Madrid.

Her store was empty of customers — not a cause for concern, she said, because she expected most of her customers to show up on Fridays and Saturdays to take advantage of the 10 percent discount on games purchased during the Black Friday event.

said Mrs. Pascual, whose shop is called hello caracola, or hello snail.

For toy stores, Black Friday is a forward-looking twist on their retail calendars, because the Spanish tradition is for kids to get their presents on January 6th, Epiphany, which celebrates how the star of the Three Kings was led to baby Jesus.

“We have already had to adapt to the fact that more Spanish families give gifts at Christmas than royalty so that their children can enjoy their toys during a longer vacation,” said Ms Pascual, and now on top of that, I know many people will be buying Christmas toys. Their birthday is already on Black Friday – especially this year when everyone is worried about delivery issues.”

She said, “Black Friday is clearly a cultural import that has nothing to do with our traditions and everything to do with globalization, something you can welcome or not.”

Federico Corradini, CEO of XChannel, a marketing company that represents dozens of game brands in Spain and Italy, said he expects sales to triple this Black Friday compared to last year, buoyed by its increased spending on advertising.

“Most of our companies are placing a big bet this Black Friday to sell as much as possible, also because they already know they will have delivery issues over the Christmas period,” he said.

In Italy, the appeal of personal customer service.

attributed to him…Clara Vanucci for The New York Times

The Drione toy store It was a landmark in Florence, Italy for 98 years, and it didn’t last long without responding to new trends.

A few years ago, Italians began anticipating big sales on a day called Black Friday, said Silvia Droni, co-owner of the store and third-generation member of its management.

“We definitely had to adapt,” she said. “We want to keep up with the times, and we embraced Black Friday, as we did with Halloween.”

However, when translated into Italian, the words indicated a crash in the stock market. So the English term “Black Friday” stuck, referring to its American roots.

Walking in Dreoni is a charm for kids and adults alike, with a roof painted to look like a blue sky crossed by puffy white clouds. The large puppet theater shows the Italian character of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. The tale of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi, who was born near the store.

About 10 years ago, Ms. Drione and her sister realized their business needed a website, and their online store now displays 8,000 toys on their shelves. Ms. Droni said in-person sales provide more satisfaction.

“Online sales are good,” she said, “but it’s cold, and no vibes.” “A lot of people still like to touch a toy or have an expert explain it to them. It’s not like buying a frying pan or a pot.”

The surge in online purchases this time of year is straining courier services across the country, making life difficult for small delivery companies.

Marco Magli, owner of ADL SPA Corriere Espresso, a local courier in Bologna, said large national and international delivery companies were inundated with online orders from Amazon and other e-commerce sites. “Every day we need to know who can help us deliver our goods in Milan or outside the city,” he said. “The market is completely saturated.”

“In the past two years, the volumes of deliveries have already started to rise in November – while before that it was only in early December,” confirmed Massimo Pedretti, union leader at SDA, a courier company owned by the Italian Postal Service.

“It’s because of Black Friday week,” he said.

In Germany, no other holiday season can escape the pandemic.

attributed to him…Christoph Staci/AFP – Getty Images

Record numbers of novel coronavirus cases have dampened German shoppers’ spirits in a year when many were looking forward to the opportunity to return to holiday markets and decorate the shopping streets.

In Bavaria, closing many holiday markets to limit the spread of the virus has turned out to be beneficial for businessArt and play, or Art and Play, a store specializing in German-made wooden toys and games.

“Our customers are happy that we are open,” said Florian Bartsch, store manager.

He added that given the current infection rate, only 50 people at the same time are allowed into the Munich city center store. Limited supplies also hamper sales. “Wooden toys are in vogue this year, although we are having trouble with deliveries,” said Mr. Bartsch. “All wholesalers buy it.”

He said supplies of some toys from local sources were still feeling the effects of previous lockdowns, including some items produced at a workshop for the disabled in Germany.

“They were forced to shut down at the height of the epidemic last year and only recently returned to full production,” he said. “They are backed by at least nine months.”

German retail association HDE said this week that concerns that shipping delays will make it difficult to find last-minute gifts could drive sales during Black Friday promotions up 27 percent compared to last year.

At the beginning of November, the Retail Consortium forecast a 2 percent increase in sales for the final two months of the year based on strong consumer confidence as the holiday season approaches. But the past two weeks have seen the country break one record after another in the numbers of new infections, forcing the authorities to close restaurants, bars and Christmas markets in the eastern and southern states.

At Kunst und Spiel, Mr. Bartsch said sales during the last three months of the year typically represented 70 percent of his annual turnover. After the loss he took during lockdown in 2020, he hopes to remain open, even if it means his staff have the added function of ensuring that shoppers are vaccinated and hidden and have no more than 50 shoppers at a time.

“If our sales stay the same so far, I will be happy,” he said.

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