German chain imports ‘Black Friday’ to Sweden

Home electronics chain Media Markt is bringing American shopping "chaos" to Sweden by staging a "Black Friday" sale inspired by American post-Thanksgiving Day sales. The German firm has been criticized for earlier marketing ploys.

German chain imports 'Black Friday' to Sweden
A Swedish consumer poses with his iPad at Media Markt. File: TT
The German retailer is set to introduce their Swedish consumers to the US phenomenon, according to the Swedish advertising trade press. Media Markt's website proudly flashes that it's time for its 'Black Friday Premiere". 
For Swedes unfamiliar with the Black Friday sale, wedged in between Thanksgiving Thursday and the weekend, Swedish tech news website IDG Media summed it up thusly: "Queuque chaos, crowds and a carnival atmosphere."
The chain said in a statement that it wanted to "blacken" every site in Sweden, from buy-sell site Blocket to tabloid behemoth Aftonbladet, with its Black Friday advertisements. 
"Media Markt loves its products and the joy its customers get from using it," Per Kaufmann, CEO of Media Markt in Sweden, said about the huge marketing campaign. 
The chain's marketing tactics are not always appreciated by Swedish observers. A set of television ads was criticized this week for spreading stereotypical gender roles.
Nina Åkestam, blogger at media and marketing news site Resumé, commented that it was clear the German retailer did not understand Swedish sensibilities. 
"It's crystal clear that the Swedish audience doesn't find these adds funny. Instead they are annoyed by them," she wrote on Friday. 
Åkestam put her trust to the Swedish advertisng watchdog, which she hoped would review and censure Media Markt for the adverts. She argued that they ”indirectly contribute to a society where women are not taken seriously and are paid less for the same work, while men get less time with their children".
Earlier this year, the German chain was also slammed by Sweden's consumer watchdog (Konsumentombudsmannen – KO) for luring customers to borrow money. KO said adverts underlining an offer with no interest rate and no initial borrowing fee were misleading in regards to the monthly cost of going into debt, and in July demanded that Media Markt submit an explanation for the adverts. 
The chain's entry into Swedes has been closely watched for its impact on the fiercely competitive consumer electronics market which has seen two chains, ONOFF and Expert, go bankrupt in recent years. In October, Media Markt closed its store in Malmö, southern Sweden, citing lack of profit. Some 50 employees were made redundant. 

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New Black Friday record for Swedish online stores

Online sales during the Black Friday shopping festival hit a new record in Sweden this year, with retailers recording annual growth of 10 percent.

New Black Friday record for Swedish online stores
A shoe shop in Sickla outside Stockholm on Black Friday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
“Hype and hysteria and yet another record for online retailers this Black Friday,” Daniel Larsson, chief executive of Sweden’s DIBS Payment Services, said in a press release on Sunday. 
“Nowadays half Swedes shop during Black Friday, most of them on the internet, and many buy their Christmas Presents then. We think this trend is here to stay.” 
The 10 percent leap in online sales for Black Friday follows an even more impressive 14 percent increase last year. 
Larsson put the slight slowdown down to retailers spreading their offers out over more than one day, with some extending it to Thursday or over the weekend, and others opting to a Black Week to replace the single day of deep discounts. 
An investigation by the opinion research company YouGov, found that roughly half of Swedish people intended to buy something on Black Friday, 28 percent of them on the internet, a five percentage point increase on last year. 
Next week DIBSs’ mother company Nets will come out with more numbers on Black Friday sales made by shops on the high street and in shopping malls.