Black Friday expected to be biggest ever in the Czech Republic, but are those sales really a bargain?

Discounts often look great online, but at checkout, shoppers are often surprised.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 25.11.2020 09:40 (updated on 25.11.2020)

Czech online companies are expecting a busy Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days leading up to the holiday gift-giving season. This year, Black Friday sales by Czech retailers could for the first time exceed CZK 1 billion, according to an analysis by web hosting firm vshosting.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States and marks the official first day of the Christmas shopping season. There, it is a big sales day as people have the day off. But it has since caught on internationally. This year it falls on Nov. 27.

Don’t believe the hype

But business analysts urge consumers to compare prices online, and not take the promised savings at face value. Two local sites allow for easy price comparisons for the same goods: Heureka.cz and Zbozi.cz.

Heureka.cz has stated in the past that not all the promised discounts mean that the customer will pay less. Many goods offered by sellers at an apparent large discount could be normally obtained in other e-shops for the same price with no discount. In some cases, goods were even more expensive than normal.

Business website Podnikatel.cz says this year is no different. They examined several sales offered by large Czech online retailers, and found that the savings was often quite small compared to what was indicated.

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“Czech retailers and marketers have adapted the concept of Black Friday in their own way and offer discounts practically all year round, often for a long time,” Michael Hovorka stated in an article on Podnikatel.cz.

“Black Friday has thus become a marketing-only concept. The Czechs hear about it and think that thanks to this event they will save significantly. The opposite may be true in some cases, and thanks to the fact that the Czechs do not check the discounts, retailers can earn significantly,” he said

Discounts are often calculated from the manufacturers suggested base price, and not from the usually lower normal selling price, he added.

Big increase in web traffic expected

The website Zive.cz is keeping a running track of many of the online sales in electronics being offered in the Czech Republic. Due to more people working remotely and also more children needing access to computers, electronics are expected to be popular this season.

Data traffic in domestic e-shops on Black Friday is expected to increase by an average of 60 percent. For typical gift shops, server traffic can be hundreds of percent higher, according to vshosting, whose services are used by more than 50 percent of Czech and Slovak e-shops.

For online stores, the Christmas shopping season is already well underway by the time Black Friday comes.

According to the suppliers using the e-shop platforms Shopsys and Shoptet, the time from September to Dec. 23 represents more than 50 percent of their full-year sales. For smaller e-shops, this value can climb up to 75 percent.

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The large increase in customers will also have an impact on logistics. According to information from payment service Mall Pay, almost 80 percent of e-shops are concerned about logistical problems. Delivery can be a common bottleneck.

For example, transport company Zásilkovna expects to reach a record 550,000 packages per day and has set up a new depot in Nehvizdy, just east of Prague. Before Christmas, the Czech Post Office set up 1,500 new dispensing points called 'balíkoven'.

Mall.cz, one of the largest domestic online stores, began its Black Friday discounts in mid-October and has been gradually adding more products to it.

Peak sales may be on Sunday

“Last year, customers were most interested in shopping on Friday, Nov. 29. However, we did not record the biggest peak on the Mall.cz website until Sunday at 8 pm, when there were more than 8,000 customers at one time. This year, there has been a lot of interest in e-commerce, and we expect that last year's records will fall this week,” Mall.cz spokeswoman Pavla Hobíková told the Czech New Agency (ČTK).

There are over 40,000 active online stores in the Czech Republic, according to ČTK. Their revenues could increase by a quarter to CZK 200 billion this year due to the coronavirus restrictions reducing the sales of of brick-and-mortar stores.

The origins of the name Black Friday are unclear. One explanation is that police in Philadelphia began using it because of the large and unruly shopping crowds. Another is that it was when stores begin to turn a profit, or start using black ink on the ledger instead of red ink.