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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

America’s Black Friday shopping craze spills over into the UAE

Shoppers are turning online to grab mega-deals this weekend, with e-tailers expecting the region’s largest ever Black Friday sale

America's biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, has hit international markets. Mark Ralston / AFP
America's biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, has hit international markets. Mark Ralston / AFP

Retailers in the UAE are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year as Black Friday sales lure in shoppers with cut price goods.

The American sales phenomena - held the day after Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23 this year, is expected to give retailers closer to home a huge boost in sales.

E-tailer Awok is offering deals featuring up to 90 per cent off on selected products. The company’s chief executive, Ulugbek Yuldashev, told The National that he expects to see a 100 per cent growth compared to last year’s sale.

“For our Eid and Ramadan sales, our target was 70 per cent growth, but [Black Friday] will be much more significant,” he said.

In preparation Awok has contracted third parties to help shore up its logistics services and increase warehouse space.

With 70,000 brands carried, the company is offering specials for about 10,000 brands or 14 per cent of its carryings when last year only 6 per cent of the brands on the site participated in the event.

There are offers on the iPhone X for Dh729, retailing at the UAE Apple store for Dh4,099. However, the site says that this item is sold out. Mr Yuldashev said other deals include laptops for Dh489 and the Samsung S8 for Dh599.

“We’re trying to give the lowest price as usual, and we’re already seeing a lot of traffic coming to the site since we started the sale,” he said.

Black Friday comes from the US, marking the country’s largest shopping day of the year, as the day following Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

Americans rush en masse to retail outlets to shop for the holidays, taking advantage of specials ahead of the holiday season. The US National Retail Federation projects that an estimated 164 million people will shop during Thanksgiving weekend.

Only 47 per cent of US consumers plan to shop online during this year's Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza that kicks off the holiday season, according to a survey from Deloitte. Mark Kauzlarich / Bloomberg
Only 47 per cent of US consumers plan to shop online during this year's Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza that kicks off the holiday season, according to a survey from Deloitte. Mark Kauzlarich / Bloomberg

Many stores extend opening hours to as early as 6am, with consumers lining up outside the doors in advance to take part in the shopping craze that includes deals for a limited amount of stock.

This has been followed by the rise in online shopping, leading to 'Cyber Monday'.

However, online shopping is still a new avenue for the region. Current figures for online sales compared to overall sales make up just 2 per cent, said Mr Yuldashev.

“It’s been showing growth for the past couple of years and I expect it to multiply over the next two to four years,” he said adding that by 2020, this region can reach Asia’s levels at 4 to 5 per cent market penetration.

And in less than a decade, that number could reach 8 to 10 per cent, which is today’s global standard.

Yet this shopping craze is relatively new for the region, and mainly adopted as a marketing play. Dubai resident, Zahra Busheri, admitted to being unaware of the term or meaning; however, she is planning to take part in the extravaganza.

“I have my own birthday which is on December 25, and it’s been ages since I’ve been shopping. I’m dying to go and now since I know it’s a mega sale, there’s nothing like it,” she said.

Souq.com uses the term “White Friday” rather than the widely known Black Friday in recognition of the region recognising Fridays as a day of worship. Its US-like shopping deals started on Wednesday until Saturday providing hourly and spotlight deals as well as another 10 per cent off if using Visa.

“The number of deals out there is much larger this year,” Ronaldo Mouchawar, founder and chief executive of Souq.com, told The National. He said that the site had half a million deals offered this year out of the site's featured 16,000 brands. There are 10 new brands taking part in the sale compared to last year.

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Read more:

E-commerce v traditional - a GCC perspective

E-commerce in the UAE: is 2017 the year it finally takes off?

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Fashion website, Elabelz.com, began its Black Friday reductions of up to 75 per cent for selected items on Monday and will continue until next Tuesday. There is also an addition promotion using the code YALLA for a guaranteed 25 per cent on items across the board.

The company expects this week-long sale to rack up revenues totaling that of the entire month of October. “This year we have seen the biggest move for fashion products online, and that’s an implication on how the market is behaving when concerning e-commerce,” said Nooruldeen Agha, founder of Elabelz.

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