Czech online retailers enjoy bumper sales but bricks and mortar shops ignore Black Friday

01-12-2014

Black Friday, a day of discounts immediately after Thanksgiving intended to boost sales in the pre-Christmas period, has spread beyond America’s borders, with the UK in particular experiencing shopping fever at the end of last week. The sales drive has also reached the Czech Republic, though there were no scenes of customers coming to blows over TV sets; in this country Black Friday overwhelmingly concerns online retailers.

Photo: Kristýna MakováPhoto: Kristýna Maková Some items flew off the virtual shelves particularly rapidly. The marketing director of computer and electronics specialist CZC.cz Kamil Demuth said it had sold 80 discounted notebooks within three minutes of sales beginning. A hundred TV sets were gone in 20 minutes. Indeed, CZC.cz said it had seen record one-day revenues.

Mall.cz – which sells other products alongside electronics and computers – said its earnings were 120 percent higher than on Thursday. Another online retailer, Kasa.cz, said its turnover was two-thirds more than usual.

The CEO of Mall.cz, Marek Liška, told the Czech News Agency that the firm’s servers had come under considerable pressure at some points on Friday, when the number of daily orders was twice as high as usual.

Mr. Liška said the discount drive had been an enormous success, particularly in view of the fact that Black Friday is a new concept on the local market.

Some Czech online retailers extended the period for discounts until midnight on Saturday. One of the biggest players on the online electronics market, Alza.cz, got in early, introducing mark-downs on Monday.

While Black Friday was introduced in the United States in the 1970s in a bid to boost footfall ahead of the holiday season, in the Czech Republic bricks and mortar outlets have for the most part failed to adopt it. One exception was white goods chain Okay, which operates 130 outlets around the country and offered discounts of up to 45 percent on selected items.

Rival bricks and mortar electronics seller Euronics told the news website iDnes.cz it had decided to remain on the sidelines. Spokesman Bohuslav Komín said it wasn’t possible to sell items at an unsustainable margin in the long term.

Discounts for the sake of discounts are the road to ruin, Komín said, adding that Black Friday was purely an internet phenomenon in this part of the world.

Electro World, another bricks and mortar chain, said it operated plenty of discount drives during the year and that the Black Friday concept had become overplayed and devalued.

Martin Charvát of the Konektor agency told iDnes.cz that online retailers were better placed to capitalise on the concept as they don’t plan discounts as far in advance as their real-world counterparts.

Charvát added that the Black Friday concept could supplement a Czech tradition dating back to the 1920s, with the Sundays leading up to Christmas being designated bronze, silver and gold. Indeed, retailers reported an increase in sales of 10 percent on yesterday’s bronze Sunday, the first of the advent period.

01-12-2014