The evolving journey of Black Friday in Egypt

Doaa A.Moneim , Wednesday 27 Nov 2019

In Egypt, both Black Friday and the traditional “Okasion” serve the same objectives of boosting the purchasing power of customers and rejuvenating the market, although the former may gain the limelight, and for good reasons

File Photo: Egyptian shoppers roam a commercial mall in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Black Friday has become the much anticipated shopping season of the year for consumers all over the world, including Egypt, due to its deals that meet the consumers' purchasing power. It has become a seasonal fever that hits the world in November every year.

In Egypt, the event has attracted the limelight away from the traditional biannual sale seasons, named Okasion, or "occassion”, because while the latter offers discounts on clothes, Black Friday slashes the prices of all commodities, including beverages, food, clothes, and electronic devices.

World demand increases by the year

In 2018, global attention to Black Friday increased to 117 percent, according to Google trend data.

According to Black Friday Global platform survey of 55 countries, the countries with the most expenditure level per individual include the US with $485, Canada with $430, the UK with $397, Ireland with $339, and the UAE with $291. Countries with the least expenditure level per individual include India with $69, the Philippines with $68, Nigeria with $61, Kazakhstan with $58, and Pakistan with $35.

Black Friday is “White” in Arab countries

Although Black Friday was first introduced in the US in the 1940s, the Arab world adopted the event in 2014, when Arab e-commerce portals launched Black Friday deals, under the name White Friday. The change of name was due to religious and traditional concepts.

More recently, Black Friday has been painted in other colours to match the trademark of the product. For example, Noon online shopping calls it Yellow Friday, and Nivea and Gillette call it Blue Friday.

In Egypt, small food and clothing shops gave it the name Green Friday, Orange Friday, etc.

Floatation of the Egyptian pound reflected positively on Black Friday

In Egypt, Black Friday, or White Friday, has been gaining more prominence in the past three years due to the declining purchasing power of Egyptians as a result of the economic reform programme, implemented since November 2016, and the floatation of the Egyptian pound around the same time that skyrocketed the prices of commodities and services.

Some 34 percent of Egyptians purchased their favourite products during the Black Friday season in 2018, up from 29 percent in 2017.

Around 54 percent of Egyptian shoppers purchased products online, 26 percent bought from stores, and 20 percent alternated between the two methods.

From 19 to 25 November 2018, White Friday sales in the Egyptian market accounted for 985 percent of sales during other times of the year, with shopping rush hours concentrated between 8am and 6pm, according to Black Friday Global data.

Clothes top purchased products

Egyptians focused on buying clothes, shoes, electronics, cosmetics, and gifts, respectively, spending an average of EGP 3,600 per individual during the season.

During White Friday 2018, about 73.8 percent of Egyptians used their smart phones to purchase products from shopping apps and online portals, 22.5 percent used their PCs and laptops, and 3.7 percent used their tablets.

While 55 percent is the global discount average, in Egypt it is set around 40 percent, with a total saving sum of EGP 1,033 in 2017, increasing slightly to 42 percent in 2018.

Black Friday is a way to promote purchasing trends

Head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ibrahim El-Arabi told Ahram Online that Black Friday is an innovative means to boost the domestic market by increasing purchases through offers, deals, and discounts.

He said prices of products are controlled by several factors, prime among which is the price of the US dollar that affects the price of imported items, in addition to the floatation of the domestic currency that had a negative impact on the domestic market. But the US dollar is more stable now and the performance of the Egyptian pound has improved, he added.

“Black Friday was a significant opportunity for the Egyptian consumer, especially with the rising prices of products over the past three years. The event managed to revitalise the market and, relatively, offset retailers' losses during that period. Therefore, it's a win-win for sellers and buyers," said El-Arabi.

But Black Friday is not taking the place of the traditional “Okasion”, the biannual seasonal sale organised by the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, lasting for one month each, he said.

In fact, Egypt's “Okasion” in summer and winter saw discounts of up to 55 percent.

“Black Friday and the seasonal Okasion are methods to stimulate sales in the domestic market. Egypt’s market is still witnessing a recession in sales, but, the latest summer Okasion, for instance, was held a month prior to its traditional time, in July instead of late August, due to the market's stagnation,” El-Arabi stated.

Another point of view

Mohamed Khattab, director of e-commerce section at B.Tech, an Egyptian shareholding company founded in 1997 especialised in selling household appliances and electronics, said Black Friday has become the much anticipated shopping event in the world, in general, and in the Egyptian market, in particular.

Khattab stated that Black Friday in Egypt gained importance since the floatation of the Egyptian pound, adding that Egyptian consumers since then began searching for reasonable prices, deals, and offers to save money.

“B.Tech's annual action plan depends on the Black Friday season to achieve its targeted profits. Household appliances and electronics vendors were eager to make deals this season thanks to the significant profits and major sales during the season. Our sales, for example, are rising annually in this season by between 50 percent and 100 percent. November become our hard-sale month of the year,” he said.

Previously, Mother’s Day was the most important sale season in the year for all retailers, but Black Friday managed to take its place, according to Khattab.

Omar Elsahy, general manager of Egypt's, a leading online shopping portal following Amazon, said the portal's White Friday sale is all about great deals and saving for consumers, adding that consumers can take advantage of the offers on their favourite products across a wide range of categories including fashion, beauty, electronics, toys, etc.

"The products included in the sale are chosen based on consumption data gathered across the year by our company to ensure it is delivering the most sought-after deals for customers and yielding lots of saving for households," he added.

He said the retail sector is constantly evolving to meet customers’ needs and is observing how the sector has grown in Egypt.

"We have also been expanding in Egypt, as in just one year, we have opened a new FC, expanded its capacity to 150 percent, increasing the number of jobs by the same percentage. We also opened two new delivery stations to serve our customers during the peak season. We have launched one-day delivery and have been working hard to ensure we meet customers' expectations. This represents the investment and development of our growth strategy in Egypt, following a steady and progressive increase in customers' demand," he added.

Elsahy believes Egypt's Black Friday and "Okasion" complement each other, serving the same objective of providing discounted items to shoppers. 

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