Black Friday sales is an American retail phenomenon the day after Thanksgiving. It launches the Christmas shopping season with big in-store discounts.

• New Zealand retailers have caught on, and this year Harvey Norman and Noel Leeming have taken part with big, widely advertised Black Friday deals.

• The Warehouse has hijacked the idea, promoting their own "Red Friday" deals.

• Shoppers weren't queuing up early to make the most of the sales in Auckland CBD this morning, but a retail expert is confident Kiwi shoppers will embrace the concept.

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Black Friday mania is set to hit New Zealand shores today, but it's unlikely the huge shopping event will out-do Boxing Day as the nation's most popular day to nab a bargain.

The phenomenon - a shopaholic's dream, where retailers mark down products across their stores in a pre-Christmas sale - has yet to reach the frenzy it generates in the US or the UK, where footage of huge queues and fights breaking out among shoppers trying to secure knocked-down items has emerged in recent years.

But shoppers here are set to net a bargain as some of the nation's biggest retailers get on board.

Google search data shows interest in 'Black Friday sales' in New Zealand jumped 222 per cent between 2012 and 2014. There was 164 per cent growth between 2012 and 2013 - the first year Black Friday really hit the shops in New Zealand - and a further 21 per cent growth in interest between 2013 and 2014.

Search data for this year was not available, Google said, as it would need to wait until the sales day was over to crunch the numbers.

However, figures for this week show searches for 'Black Friday sales 2015' have risen by 40 per cent in the past week, and searches for 'Black Friday online sales' have grown by 60 per cent in the same period.

Google data showed Wellingtonians had the strongest interest in Black Friday, followed by Aucklanders.

But with searches for Boxing Day sales still three times greater among Kiwis than Black Friday sales, it doesn't look set to overtake the post-Christmas shopping spree.

Greg Harford, Retail New Zealand's general manager public affairs, said Black Friday was a "relatively new phenomenon in New Zealand", despite being around in America for some time.

"It's a really good opportunity, prior to Christmas, for retailers to put some special deals on the table and for consumers to make the most of it," he said.

And retailers in New Zealand were getting on board, he said.

"The two biggest retailers to be embracing it are The Warehouse - which of course is doing 'Red Friday' specials - and Harvey Norman. Both are out in the market doing promotions at the moment.

"I think consumers are always on the lookout for a good deal and we're four weeks till Christmas so the consumers who are looking to get out and do that Christmas shopping and get things out of the way, there's deals to be had and it's a good opportunity. And I think consumers are doing that from what I hear anecdotally," he said.

However, he did not think it was likely to overtake Christmas Eve or Boxing Day sales.

"Christmas Eve is traditionally our biggest [shopping] day in New Zealand, and we certainly expect that to continue, because notwithstanding the fact that people start their shopping early, there's always a last-minute rush to get things sorted," Mr Harford said.

"I think Boxing Day sales are pretty entrenched now in the New Zealand shopping calender, Black Friday I think, as it grows, will complement that rather than replace it."

He added: "It could certainly become as big, potentially, over time, but I don't see it replacing Boxing Day sales."

Those keen to snap up a bargain, or get the Christmas shopping done early, should get out the wallets and purses and head for the shops today, he said.

"Retail is a very competitive marketplace, retailers are keen to get customers in the door and buying goods, and my advice would be for consumers to make the most of Black Friday sales where they're on."

The Warehouse said it was anticipating queues outside its stores "as customers rush to get their hands on a phenomenal deal from Red Friday", the name the retailer has adopted for Black Friday.

Kiwis would be keen to take advantage of some of the great deals and nab some early Christmas bargains, The Warehouse chief executive Simon Turner said.

"Our team have worked hard to make sure these deals are worth jumping out of bed early for, and we think our customers will be delighted to get a head start on their Christmas shopping lists."

Julia Morton, head of PR and media at The Warehouse Group, said the company had been running Red Friday for three years, and it "grows in popularity each year".

"This year we anticipate even more Kiwis will be keen to take advantage of some of the great deals available."

Noel Leeming general manager of merchandise Jason Bell said Black Friday was gaining momentum every year, and was "now a significant retail event in New Zealand".

"Noel Leeming, in line with customer demand and awareness for the day, has stepped up significantly from last year's successful Black Friday sale with deep discounts across the store for one day only," he said.

New Zealand Post's YouShop service, which gives Kiwis a postal address in the US, UK or China, and then delivers purchases to your home, has also got into the Black Friday spirit, by offering a 10 per cent discount for users of its service.

YouShop has emailed subscribers with a discount code valid until December 5, and links to some of Black Friday's biggest retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Ebay.

Harvey Norman declined to comment on its Black Friday deals.