For people who already hate Halloween, these are literally dark days.
This week's Black Friday retail sales phenomenon - an import from the United States' Thanksgiving holiday long weekend just like October's 'trick or treat' extravaganza - is expected to prise open New Zealand shoppers' wallets even wider than this country's traditional biggest sale day of the year, Boxing Day.
Like Singles Day, a Chinese retail phenomenon that was widely adopted by New Zealand retailers on Nov. 11 this year, Black Friday has become a 'thing' in the local shopping calendar like never before this year, say a range of close observers of the Kiwi retail sector.
"It feels to me that over the last two or three years, they (Singles Day and Black Friday) have emerged in the New Zealand market as additional opportunistic sales drivers," says Simon Lendrum, an Auckland-based business consultant and former ad agency boss. 

Sales ecosystem

Global brands and retailers, and their global online sales platforms, have effectively exported these 'retail activation events' to the New Zealand market, where "it's fuelled in this market, I suspect, by media, the Herald and the like," says Lendrum.
Both the New Zealand Herald and Wellington's The Dominion Post newspapers were wrapped in special Black Friday promotions on Thursday, while a quick Google search found a freshly published story in Britain's Daily Telegraph about the history of the American tradition's transfer to other markets, along with a selection of Black Friday shopping tips.
"The number of retailers seems to grow year on year," says Retail NZ's Greg Harford. "It's not just Black Friday. It's often creeping in a few days early and later."
Spark is advertising Black Friday deals online that don't expire till Dec. 7.
Paymark transaction data last year valued Black Friday sales at $69 million and Stephen Bridle of retail sales consultants Marketview estimates total turnover for Black Friday is probably around $100 million. The Australian-based comparison pricing website says New Zealanders are expected to spend a total of $860 million in this year's November sales.
That's partly because of the presence of a third, recently growing major sale day in the previously unmolested month of November - Cyber Monday - which is bringing up the rear with a day of online-only bargains, on Dec. 2.

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Cyber Monday??

Dismissed by Lendrum as "made up", Cyber Monday coat-tails shamelessly on the sales momentum from three days earlier and appears to have started in the US in the mid-2000s, when online shopping was starting to boom.'s editor in chief, Angus Kidman, says it remains the poor cousin of November sales and is often no more than an extension of, rather than an improvement on, the deals offered on Black Friday - a day whose naming is somewhat shrouded in mystery but may date back to an American gold market crash in the mid-1800s.
Its popularity in the US stems from the fact that Thanksgiving acts for most Americans as Christmas does for New Zealanders, and is the only widely celebrated four-day holiday in the American calendar.
In New Zealand, market observers say the popularity of Black Friday hasn't so much been organised by retailers and advertising agencies as noticed by consumers accustomed to shopping online who liked the deals. That snowballed as the concept became embedded in the shopping year is now a great way for retailers to encourage timely Christmas shopping and to counter the trend towards gift vouchers for redemption in cut-price Boxing Day sales.

Boxing Day 'tradition'

And for those who view these American and Chinese imports as an offence to good old Kiwi tradition, the chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association, Mark Knoff-Thomas, has a reminder: Boxing Day sales are only about 20 years old.
"I'm from the UK originally," he told BusinessDesk. "I remember going back for holidays as a kid and my Mum frothing at the mouth to get to the Boxing Day sales over there."
With the final stage of the $790 million redevelopment of the Westfield retail centre in Newmarket, Knoff-Thomas says the shopping mecca is regaining its crown as the "epicentre of New Zealand retail" and that the success of major sale days for bricks and mortar retailers now includes collaboration with bars and restaurants.
"It's experiential retail" in which shopping becomes part of a wider day out.
The sales are also great news for parcel deliverers, with New Zealand Post saying Black Friday and Cyber Monday are "a sales and spending occasion that is now bigger than Boxing Day."
Its newly published retail activity report, The Full Download, puts the value of the two pre-Christmas sales at $130 million, compared with $80 million from Boxing Day.
"These are the busy periods of the year for us," said Bryan Dobson, chief marketing officer at NZ Post, where parcel revenues have long surpassed traditional letter mail. "This is when retailers really gear up and Kiwis just shop a lot online."