|08 December, 2019

UAE online spending surges as consumers snap up Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals

Online retail events are becoming increasingly popular among shoppers in the country

Image used for illustrative purpose. A fitting model enters data in a laptop after she checks out sizes for a shoe which goes on sale at the online shop of fashion retailer Zalando in Berlin, Germany, December 17, 2018.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A fitting model enters data in a laptop after she checks out sizes for a shoe which goes on sale at the online shop of fashion retailer Zalando in Berlin, Germany, December 17, 2018.

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Several retailers in the UAE and the Middle East enjoyed "record-breaking" Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with sales posting double-digit growth, according to industry sources.

In the UAE, e-commerce transactions went up by "more than double" for Jumbo Electronics. The technology products retailer had offered deals on a wide array of items, including smartphones and digital cameras from November 23 to December 3.

Pankaj Kumar, head of Jumbo omnichannel retail, said that while Black Friday and Cyber Monday are "relatively new" in the UAE, they're becoming increasingly popular among online shoppers.

"We have seen good growth during this period compared to last year, not just online but in-store, too," Kumar told Zawya.com. "Our e-commerce numbers more than doubled compared to the same period last year. Our in-store sales were also buoyant, thanks to the long weekend and good traffic in-store," he added.

According to e-commerce giant Criteo, retailers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region saw "record in revenues" during the sales events. Black Friday, in particular, was remarkable for Saudi Arabia, which led online sales transactions to post double-digit growth.

"Revenues of retailers went up around Black Friday across the region, especially Saudi Arabia, which showed year-over-year double-digit trend above average," Alistair Burton, Criteo country manager for Middle East and Africa, told Zawya.com.

"It is becoming increasingly important for retailers to chart out a winning and clear e-commerce strategy to capitalize on these new trends," the spokesperson said.

The two online retail events started out in the US to boost consumer spending after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which occurred on November 29 this year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the first Friday and Monday, respectively, after Thanksgiving, when retailers mark down their prices by as much as 90 per cent.

Merchants in the US had pulled in about $16.8 billion in online sales following blockbuster spending in this year's much-anticipated bargain bonanza, surpassing last year's figures.

E-commerce sites in the UAE offered similar deals during the retail holidays, with discounts ranging from 30 per cent to 80 per cent. Amazon ran a promotion offering 50 dirhams discount to shoppers and an extra 10 per cent on certain items, while Noon.com, a venture backed by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi’s PIF, offered 80 per cent off. 

Apart from discounts, shoppers were also enticed with deals like Jumbo's 24-month installment plan on smartphones, enabling buyers to own a new iPhone 11 for as low as Dh138 a month.

The UAE is considered to have one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the region, with a penetration rate of 4.2 per cent, according to a white paper published by Visa in June 2019.

Online sales in the UAE are estimated to grow by an average of 23 per cent annually between 2018 and 2023.

Saudi Arabia is considered the second-biggest market, with a penetration rate of 3.8 per cent.

According to Visa, the UAE enjoys many advantages that make it ideal for e-commerce growth. Its consumer demographic consists of a young internet-savvy population, with high social media usage.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

(seban.scaria@refinitiv.com)

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