Shoppers around the world on the hunt for electronic and fashion bargains on Black Friday are back.
However, unlike past years - when rock-bottom deals led to pushing and even fighting - this year the atmosphere was comparatively subdued in the US and the UK as malls and retailers get innovative to meet demand.
Many customers are opting the e-commerce route for shopping and also early start of deals has mellowed the Black Friday frenzy.
Some online retailers had started selling discounted items as early as from Wednesday.
Also, global retailers are offering new ways for shoppers to get deals online and in the store easier and faster in the age of instant gratification.
Walmart introduced a digital map on its mobile app to make it easier for shoppers to find an item's exact location in the store. While retailer Kohl's has a new feature on its mobile app that lets customers take photos of products anywhere and find similar items at the department store.
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And customers, frustrated with long checkout lines, can check out at Walmart and other stores with a salesperson right on the spot. Shoppers are also offered new free shipping options.
“Retailers are pulling out all the stops to get shoppers earlier with online deals and using online to push shoppers in the store,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser at the US-based NPD Group - a market research firm. “I think overall spending will be decent.”
Online retailers in the Arabian Gulf region consider Black Friday as an opportunity to soar sales’ graph while cementing ties with new customers.
“This is a crucial time for every online and offline retailer to generate great top line figures, attract new customers and strengthen ties with their existing customers,” Greg Sewastianowicz, chief marketing officer of the UAE-based Namshi, an online destination for fashion and lifestyle, told The National.
“We have witnessed a huge increase in sales in November and are on track to beat all records from this and past years’,” added Mr Sewastianowicz.
Emaar Malls, a unit of Dubai-based Emaar Properties, owns the majority of Namshi.
“In the GCC region, we see huge interest for events like Black Friday which is always one of the largest happenings of the year. It is great not only from the consumers’ perspective but it’s equally lucrative for e-commerce companies like ours,” Ulugbek Yuldashev, founder and chief executive of Awok.com, told The National.
“We see tremendous surge in our sales and this year we are expecting it to increase by almost 100 per cent.”
This year, Awok.com has come up with a unique concept called Black November, where it is providing discounts of up to 90 per cent throughout the month.
Besides, GCC has its own shopping events that coincides with Black Friday.
Amazon-owned Souq.com’s White Friday, running from November 20-24, allows customers across the Arabian Gulf and Egypt to avail discounts of up to 70 per cent. Noon – the Middle East’s homegrown digital marketplace – has unveiled its first Yellow Friday from November 20-24.
* with inputs from Associated Press