Black Friday: Maybe December Will be Better

Analysis

This year’s Black Friday was probably the most unpredictable for retailers. Customers were told to expect discounts of a maximum of 20%, while inflation in October was 21.1%. That meant those lucky enough to take advantage of the higher discount rates for products could buy them at last year’s prices, at best.

To say the least, that did not present a very attractive offer. In addition, electricity and heating bills massively impacted family budgets in November, which must have cooled the usual shopping fever for Black Friday.

Recent studies indicate that Hungarians had, indeed, lost much of their previous interest. Based on data provided by Google Trends, Picodi summarized the search statistics for Black Friday and found that 53% fewer Hungarians conducted searches for promotions than three years ago (in other words, before the pandemic).

According to Picodi, this is due not only to the insecure financial situation but also to the fact that the terms “Black Friday” and “Black Week” have become debased and lost some of their impact: the promotions are too many and last too long.

While the drop seems dramatic in Hungary, it is not the highest. In Turkey, it was -81%, in Russia -58%, and in Poland -54%. But there were also countries where interest in Black Friday rose, as in the case of Japan, with 22% more searches, and, less dramatically, Finland, up +1%, according to Picodi.

But the sales data did not confirm the anxious statistics. Electronics chain Euronics reported 80,000 more products sold on Black Friday than in October, a 54% increase. The most popular products were small vacuum cleaners, smartphones and air fryers. On average, buyers spent HUF 140,000 on smartphones. This category generated the highest revenues for Euronics on Black Friday, with the best-selling brands being Samsung, iPhone and Xiaomi.

At retailer eMAG, the Black Friday promotion lasted for one day, on November 18, launched before the majority of retailers, who started on the more traditional November 25. About 166,000 customers placed orders for more than 375,000 products, generating a turnover of HUF 10.5 billion.

Hajdú-Bihar Big Spenders

On average, customers ordered 2.3 items, with an average basket value of HUF 74,971.

Interestingly, geographically the highest average value orders were placed not in Budapest, as in previous years, but in Hajdú-Bihar County (HUF 88,284).

Among the most expensive items ordered were Apple products (a MacBook Pro notebook and a desktop workstation), large OLED and miniLED TV sets, and a high-performance printer.

Apart from the top-priced products, most buyers picked TV sets at an average price of HUF 170,000 and laptops (for HUF 123,000). Also popular were smartphones ( HUF 180,000, on average), tablets (HUF 120,000), refrigerators (HUF 152,000) and washing/drying machines (HUF 168,000).

Other popular products were big-pack rinse aids, dishwasher capsules and toilet paper. Interestingly, while buyers spent nearly HUF 12,000 on pet food, they paid half that on canned food.

While it is difficult to compare year-on-year figures between Black Friday sales of 2021 and 2022, merely because of the inflation and the HUF vs. EUR exchange rate depreciation, it is worth noting the differences (see chart above.)

Romanian Comparison

With stores in both Hungary and Romania, eMAG can compare the two. Macroeconomic figures show a lower purchasing power for the Romanian population than in Hungary and also a lower GDP per capita, which would, in theory, result in lower spending, even on special occasions such as Black Friday.

But the reality contradicts the statistics. eMAG held Black Friday on November 12 in Romania, where the results look huge. Romanians spent a total equivalent of HUF 52.8 bln with the company, compared to HUF 10.5 bln in Hungary, and the average spend per client was HUF 96,000, as opposed to HUF 74,971 in Hungary.

Online commerce growth has slowed this year, a report by GKID and price comparison portal arukereso.hu indicates. While inflation added to the trend, it had started earlier. In Q1 this year, the basket values increased by 12% compared to Q1 of 2021, but by Q2 and Q3, the values were lower by a few percentage points.

Michal Vodak, CEO of Heureka Group, which owns arukereso.hu, said: “We have noticed in the last months that searches rose significantly for the cheapest, no-name products, even for basic food, such as sugar, flour, toilet paper or paper notebooks. Customers turn from premium products to cheaper brands.”

GKID analyst Norbert Madar says there is also a powerful buyer group that has financial resources but saves them for the pre-Christmas period, and that is when they will spend more.

Overall, GKID expects Christmas spending to be similar to last year, but the overall number of transactions is stagnating or even somewhat lower than last year. As for the near future, GKID expects inflation to decrease in the second half of next year and online commerce to return to a dynamic growth track.

The categories do not always overlap perfectly, as some products are grouped differently, making direct product comparisons tricky. Still, while 364,000 toys and kids’ products were sold in Romania, for example, the figure was 51,376 in Hungary.

Danish multinational home and garden furnishing retailer Jysk had not announced its Black Friday results by the time this issue of the Budapest Business Journal went to print. It had, however, added an extra 24 hours to its sales period this year, taking it up to five days from November 23-27. It has high hopes for the period. Black Friday 2021 saw 18% more traffic over its four-day period than during Black Friday 2020. Last year, the turnover in the department stores was HUF 1.9 bln, while online orders totaled HUF 200 mln. The top sellers in 2021 were Christmas elves, followed by decorative pillows and mattresses. This year, more than 1,500 products were in the sale, with the most significant discount being 70%, Jysk said.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 2, 2022.

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