Coronavirus will hit Black Friday spending – but not in Saudi and UAE, report reveals

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Black Friday normally heralds the start of a holiday season shopping frenzy, but consumers are set to be tighter with their purse strings this festive season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

Official Black Friday deals often start on Thanksgiving Day (November 26) and last into the weekend, followed by Cyber Monday sales on November 30.

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These sales make Black Friday shopping a fun family tradition - but also a great way to save cold, hard cash.

However, the Global Black Friday Forecast, conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, predicts that – like most things this year – 2020 will be different.

The study, based on a sample of more than 11,000 consumers across 14 countries, indicates that the pandemic has had significant impact on consumer shopping behavior for this upcoming holiday shopping season – across all countries, more than 60 percent of consumers agreed that the pandemic has influenced their shopping behavior.

Among the most noticeable changes are the shift to online shopping for safety reasons, increased emphasis on shopping locally, and a stronger focus on Black Friday in order to save money during holiday shopping.

Significantly, while more than 50 per cent of shoppers quizzed globally reported a willingness to buy during holiday shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, for most countries this figure has decreased year on year.

The report showed the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a decrease in shopping expenditures across all countries – globally, the average budget for shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday is between $230 and $300.

UAE, Saudi Arabia still set to spend

However, malls and retailers can still count on consumers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia to splash the cash. The report revealed shoppers from the two countries had earmarked the biggest spending budgets for the shopping season - an average of $400 per person – which bucked a global trend reflecting a lack of willingness to spend this year.

Shoppers in Dubai Mall (File Photo: Reuters)
Shoppers in Dubai Mall (File Photo: Reuters)

Both countries also who reported increased willingness to buy year-on-year– from 77 per cent to 79 per cent in Saudi Arabia and from 45 per cent to 85 per cent in the UAE.

Experts said it reflected a trend across both Arabic countries to spend smore savvy – utilizing the hot deals normally seen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“After COVID-19, consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are being more cautious when it comes to spending their discretionary incomes,” said Lovrenc Kessler, a managing partner at Simon-Kucher in Dubai, UAE, in the report. “However, we are optimistic with the high levels of expected spending – Black Friday is still seen as an attractive moment to save money on purchases planned in advance.

“This reveals a major opportunity for retailers to sharpen their promotions and maximize cross-sell opportunities as consumers will be browsing across multiple categories.”

Consumer preferences lean toward online shopping in the majority of countries – most prominently in China, where 70 percent of those surveyed said they plan to shop online. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, offline shopping is still the preference, but only marginally.

Gawel Adamek, a director in the global consumer goods and retail practice at Simon-Kucher in Dubai, said in the report: “With the recent expansion of Amazon in the region, all retailers are engaged in the Black Friday season – both brick-and-mortar and online. It creates an opportunity to inspire customers to explore new shopping occasions. Established preference for traditional offline shopping allows retailers to provide more experiential shopping activations in the stores.

“This year, retailers will be competing to pull consumers to their online shops through any available online marketing channels and offer them a unique shopping experience online, such as concept corners or exclusive product offers, to boost cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.”

The report shows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Singles Day in China) are continuing to grow in popularity across the world, with Black Friday remaining the most widely recognized sales event of the holiday season.

Across all countries surveyed, respondents overwhelmingly indicated familiarity with Black Friday. In fact, in six of the 14 countries surveyed (Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and the UAE), 100 percent of respondents said they are familiar with the holiday.

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