For decades, Black Friday was an American phenomenon. But what started off as a cultural quirk for American shoppers has gone on to become of the United States’ most famous exports. So where did it all begin and how does it affect people in Germany? 

The history of Black Friday 

There’s still discussion around the origin of Black Friday. Despite this, all the ideas are related to three central themes: Thanksgiving, Christmas and shopping. 

The first theory is that Black Friday first came about because so many American factory workers used to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving. Factory workers that showed up the next day ended up having to pick up the slack for their hungover colleagues and keep up the same pace of work in the important lead up to Christmas. 

The second comes from the result of careful coordination between the American businesses and government. Thanksgiving actually used to take place on the last Thursday of November until 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially moved the holiday forward by one week. Roosevelt did this because businesses thought this would kickstart spending for the Christmas period earlier and boost sales. 

Black Friday in Germany 

Germans have a reputation for being smart savers and keeping an eye on their spending, but that hasn’t stopped Black Friday from growing in Germany over the past 15 years. First introduced by Apple in 2006 (surprise, surprise), Black Friday-style sales are growing among retailers in the country. 

Many Germans are well aware of Black Friday, despite the fact that Thanksgiving isn’t even celebrated in the country. Millennial Germans are mostly likely to take part in Black Friday-style sales, with around 61% saying they plan to buy on the day. Gen Z takes second place with 58% but awareness sharply drops off from here with only 39% of people aged 45-54 in Germany aware of Black Friday. 

According to a 2020 Shopify BFCM Shopping Predictions Survey, 65% of German shoppers are planning on buying something on Black Friday. But it’s unlikely you’ll see any fistfighting over flatscreen TVs in Saturn or Media Markt, as around 47% of shoppers in Germany combine buying online with visits to stores. German habits are also less likely to result in splurging on luxury goods, with the majority of people opting for electronics and everyday clothing from regular brands. The shift from in-store shopping in early December to shopping online in late November is also a combination of the Black Friday effect and the pandemic where people’s new lifestyles mean laptops for working from home and additional household white goods purchases become essential rather than simply nice to have. 

How to shop smart on Black Friday in Germany

Even though over half of German shoppers said they planned to buy something on Black Friday, that doesn’t necessarily mean storming the shops or buying on impulse. In fact, many Germans are take advantage of the sales to buy for specific events like Christmas or to save money on items normally sold at full price. But, whether you’re splashing out to reward yourself or on the hunt for bargains, there are a few ways you can be a savvy shopper on Black Friday: 

Don’t be fooled by discounts - Do your research on sale prices. About half of sale items have actually been listed at lower prices earlier in the year. That discount could actually be a premium price! 

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Shop safer with Nuri - Shoppers are on the prowl for easy wins, which means criminals are too. Nuri’s card protects you online with 3D secure technology. For everything else, you can lock and unlock your card via the mobile app at any time via the app, whether in between contactless payments in store or when making free withdrawals from any ATM worldwide. 

Plan ahead - If you are looking to buy something in particular, check consumer reports to see if the product lives up to the hype. Then make a list of several retailers that stock it. This way, you can check for any last minute price drops and have a back up for when stores sell out. 

Whether it sprang from disgruntled workers or a decision from the White House to get people spending, Black Friday is a yearly event that only seems to be growing in popularity around the world. But that doesn’t mean you need to take part in a needless free-for-all. 

Black Friday can be a great opportunity to make much needed purchases, as well as to get ahead on gifts for friends and loved ones before the other financial pressures of Christmas kick in. But having said that, if you feel like you deserve it and want to splash the cash, Black Friday is a chance to get more for your money.