Is Black Friday on its way to becoming the world’s biggest travel event?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In the US, the ‘Black Friday’ period of heavy discounting is also known as Thanksgiving

Have you heard of Black Friday? Well you’ll soon be hearing quite a lot about it.

For the past 25 years, an American tradition has seen retailers opening at midnight on the Friday after Thanksgiving – to offer discounted items to attract shoppers.

Now retailers across the globe are joining in on the fun.

Research shows it’s good news for high street shops. The competition is a good way to draw in shoppers, as is it helping big chains compete with their online rivals.

But is it having any impact on international travel?

It seems not, and that’s good news for the travel industry.

A few weeks ago the UK’s top travel firms were claiming things were “fine” when it came to the start of holiday bookings after Black Friday. But the travel industry website Skyscanner says its research shows that around 18% of people said they decided to make a decision on holiday plans within 24 hours of Black Friday.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Retailers will rely on Black Friday to bring in more tourists

Sarah Turner, a holiday expert at Skyscanner, suggests this might be because there was less of a buzz about Black Friday because it was mid-December when it took place – although she says the intensity will inevitably increase.

But her concern is that the buzz around it might be less now. “I would say it’s slightly less now than last year because people are into the holiday season and in from abroad and getting ready for the winter holidays already,” she says.

But, in the US, the ‘Black Friday’ period of heavy discounting is also known as Thanksgiving.

And this has resulted in an impressive rise in travel bookings for that period.

The US travel website Expedia says purchases grew 25% during the busiest day of the holiday season – Tuesday 19 November 2016 – to be up by more than 40% compared to the same day in 2015.

Black Friday, so named because it was first observed on 1 November 1985 in the US, is now the second busiest day for travel behind Christmas Day.

It provides an annual boost for retailers too, and they hope this year’s Black Friday will lead to a significant lift in sales.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sales and bookings for Black Friday in the US are up compared to last year

The UK travel market is worth £58.8bn every year, and the travel industry in the UK is one of the best performing sectors.

Justine Norrington, sales and marketing director at Thomas Cook UK and Ireland, agrees that the competition will drive other companies to compete, and she’s not concerned about the impact this could have on the long-term outlook for bookings.

“The short-term impact won’t be an issue and I think it’s for shoppers, so long as their future expectations are being met,” she says.

Taken together, these events could make it easier for consumers to decide on the long-term benefits of travelling to one destination, rather than shopping for a variety of options.

(Plus, Black Friday really is famous across the pond – what’s with that, anyway?)

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