Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Habits


November may seem early to start thinking about Christmas gifts, but it is actually dangerously close to the 24th hour, especially for those who choose to order from abroad.

Catalin Dit

Public polls at this time of year are a data goldmine both for brick-and-mortar and online shops, indicating not only the top preferences in Hungarian shopping habits, but also how much they plan to spend in making their loved ones happy at Christmas.  

Readers may have noticed that shopping malls in Hungary sometimes get unusually and unexpectedly crowded. If Christmas is not yet at hand, nor the annual sales weeks, why are so many Hungarians suddenly so excited to buy? It’s the coupons.  

Glossy magazines periodically issue coupons allowing generous discounts in selected shops or retail chains. The promotion period is relatively short, only two-to-three days, usually in weekends. If you observe closely, the overwhelming majority of the customers are women, but that should not come as a surprise, according to the public polls.   

A study conducted by price comparison portal and market research company GKI Digital reveals that women, young adults and pensioners prefer buying Christmas presents in shopping malls.

In total, more than half, 54% of the respondents choose traditional purchasing channels, while less than one-third seek out specialty shops. Male buyers prefer ordering online, mainly from domestic webshops, but 18% also consider ordering from abroad. On average, the respondents will buy gifts for eight people.  

Shopping is preceded by careful planning. Window shopping, promotional leaflets and advertisements are still important sources for information gathering, but price comparison online portals are also increasingly popular.  

Finally, the figure that all managers are eager to know: how much clients are planning to spend. The amount budgeted for this year, as revealed by and GKI Digital, is HUF 48,400, well above the HUF 41,000 of last year. More than one-third of respondents add that they are not scheduling any specific time for spending this amount, but will rather wait for the best promotions. As for the most popular gifts, these are clothing, cosmetics and toys, according to the poll conducted in October.  

Black Friday Mania

One of the most eagerly awaited promotions is Black Friday, which this year will fall on November 22 or 29, or both, depending on the marketing strategy of each shop.

Based on data gathered in previous years (2017 and 2018), Hungarians mainly shop online on Black Friday and expect a discount of around 55% on this day. The actual discounts offered are not far from this, at around 53%, compared to 63% in the United Kingdom, 62% in the Czech Republic, 54% in Romania and 51% in Austria, a compilation by market research company shows.

A large majority of the Hungarian clients (72%) know exactly what they are looking to buy, and on average purchase four items. The amount budgeted for spending during Black Friday was HUF 47,380 last year and is expected to be HUF 56,968, according to

Romanian webshop Emag has been present on the Hungarian market for six years, during which time it has become one of the most important players on the online marketplace. From its very first year, Emag participated to the Black Friday promotions. Since then, clients have slightly reduced their purchases on the day, country manager Catalin Dit told the Budapest Business Journal.  

“In the beginning, Black Friday had a huge impact on our financial year; around 40% of all-year sales were made in this one single day, which was enormous. Now, Black Friday equivalates with sales made during 30 average days,”, Dit says.  

That does not mean that Emag’s business has shrunk, she explains. “This means that our business has grown significantly, and the Black Friday revenues became more balanced compared to the total sales,” Dit says. Black Friday is not only important from a revenue perspective, but also as a marketing tool: 30% of BF customers are new to Emag, clients that never made a purchase on the site before, the country manager says.

Purchasing Power Index

Market research company GfK recently compiled the purchasing power data of 42 European countries. Purchasing power, according to the methodology, is a measure of disposable income after the deduction of taxes and charitable contributions and including any received state benefits.

The study indicates per-person, per-year purchasing power levels in euros as an index. Consumers draw from their general purchasing power to cover expenses related to eating, living, services, energy, private pensions and insurance plans as well as other expenditures, such as vacations, mobility and consumer purchases. 

In the case of Hungary, the average per capita purchasing power is EUR 7,416, roughly half of the European average of EUR 14,739. That ranks Hungary 30th, just below Poland.

Splitting the Hungarian purchasing power into monthly amount results in EUR 618 (about HUF 204,000) that a person can spend, on average. Of course, there are wide differences regionally; for instance, the residents of Budapest enjoy the highest amount at EUR 9,230 per person, almost 25% more than the national average. 

It is also worth comparing Hungarian purchasing power with other countries in the region. While Moldova and Ukraine are well below the Hungarian average (the figure is EUR 1,830 in Ukraine, for example), Hungary is situated somewhere in the middle. Poland and the Czech Republic both surpass the Hungarian level at EUR 7,589 and 9,959 respectively, while Romania is some way below, at EUR 5,881.

Western countries enjoy much higher amounts, exactly as you would expect: Austria is at EUR 24,067; Germany EUR 23,779; France EUR 20,306; and Italy EUR 17,799, the GfK survey indicates. 

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