STOCK Dubai shopping sales and economy
Whether the UAE shopper is heading for the malls or going online, he or she will be getting some of the biggest price drops of the last 3 years. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: As Black Friday opens, shoppers in the UAE heading to the malls or browsing for online deals have one major factor already in their favour – prices have come down across categories from 2022’s inflation-fuelled peaks.

Add to that the discounts being offered – stretching up to 90 per cent – and shoppers are onto something good. In the most popular consumer categories, prices have softened in real terms, or in the case of gadgets like smartphones, seen significant drops as a result of seasonal promotions. And when it comes to TVs and home appliances, the price drop is even bigger (helped by retailers wanting to clear inventory where possible).

Lower prices could also help overcome shoppers’ worries related to higher charges on their credit card spends. (Here too consumers are getting some help, with BNPL (buy now pay later) options allowing them to make interest-free payments up to six months.)

In fact, some retail industry sources say this year’s price points are the lowest in 3-4 years, with none of the supply disruptions from the Covid years (2020 and 2021) visible. “But the softening of inflation and what it means for retail prices is the biggest boost shoppers in the UAE will be getting even before they decide what to buy this Black Friday season,” said a retailer at a leading fashion focused group.

“Same time last year, many consumers were cautious in their approach, and they had concerns about cost of living and whether they should be spending on non-essentials. This year, the mood is already bullish.”

Even hypermarket operators in the country are getting into the Black Friday mood, serving up offers and special discounts across high-volume categories, including food. If shoppers are in the mood to spend in the next few days, every retailer wants a piece of that action.

Shop for the best deals now and have enough saved for travel experiences in December - that's what UAE residents are out to do

- CEO at a Dubai-based retailer

Retailers are also hopeful that the next few days and weeks could end up being the biggest Q4 sales phase of the last 10 years, with the start of COP28 in Dubai – and all the delegates this will bring about - providing another avenue to bump up sales. And then, in the final two weeks of December, the rush of high-spending tourists will help close our

On top of the Black Friday, the ‘Three-Day Super Sale (3DSS) is running at all the leading shopping destinations in Dubai between today and through Sunday. Again, up to 90 per cent straight discounts is what’s greeting shoppers.

Is iPhone 15 ready for sales take-off?
Apple's latest iPhone has been in UAE stores for weeks now, and the demand is rated as steady rather than spectacular. It could be that shoppers are holding back because many had bought the iPhone 14 as recently as in January or February this year (because of supply issues).

In contrast, "The supply situation is much better with iPhone 15," said Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Eros Group. "Coupled with an overall lower demand on smartphones, the product is now available off-the-shelf.

"I don't think consumers are disappointed with the iPhone 15, but a general lower demand and average longer life of smartphones is affecting launch of new flagship models and sales. Despite this, iPhone 15 sales are holding strong."

The Black Friday demand could be just the boost it will need to put in that extra burst of growth.
iPhone 15
Can the next few weeks fire up Apple’s iPhone 15 sales in the UAE? Image Credit: Apple

Buy anytime?

Shoppers in the UAE have already seen a wave of promotions luring them since the start of October and which have seen a further boost this month. The ‘11/11’ sales were particularly strong, as was the week of ‘Diwali’, the Indian festival.

“Rather than just during Black Friday or at the end-of-year, the whole October-December phase is turning out to be a full-on promotional season in the UAE,” said Sandeep Ganediwalla, Partner at the RedSeer consultancy. “Shoppers are responding by not waiting to buy – if they feel they are getting a good deal, they are buying immediately.

“You can see that happening with smartphones – some of the best deals are happening right through the Q4 phase.”

Banks serve up opportunities to spend - and save
Banks in the UAE keep tweaking their offers to keep their retail clients spending - but with enough of rewards thrown in. As part of its tie up with noon, Emirates NBD and Emirates Islamic cardholders receive 20% discounts on purchases of Dh100 or more. Cardholders of these banks' noon One cards receive 25% off on Dh100 purchases.

Fashion’s big season

Which explains why retailers have to come up with that extra bit of incentives for their Black Friday offers to click big. This weekend, fashion and accessories could end up being the biggest sales category, as shoppers seek a reset for their wardrobes.

Again, the discounts across the most popular apparel brands are eye-catching. And these too come stripped off the inflation linked mark-ups of last year.

So, the deals are out there and shoppers by now are clued on how to get the one that suits their needs and budgets. And they are doing so by micro-managing their costs down to the last decimal.

But as long as they are buying, retailers in the UAE will have no issue with that. 

Will BNPL be the biggest consumer spend option this Black Friday?
This Black Friday, shoppers in the UAE could end up making the 'buy now, pay later' option as more popular than payments made in cash. That's according to Uplo, an online retail management company.

Cash-on-delivery typically makes up approximately 35% of purchases, with credit and debit cards holding 42%, while BNPL averages 23%.

"However, given growing familiarity of BNPL across the region, and Black Friday falling before pay-day for many employees, Uplo estimates that BNPL will overtake cash-on-delivery" during this year's promotion run.

In the UAE the percentage of sales through BNPL will climb to 26% of purchases, cash will drop to 23% and credit/debit card usage will account for 51% of items bought.

In Saudi Arabia, the 'effects are even more pronounced', with BNPL becoming the biggest payment method on Black Friday. The company forecasts 37% of sales will be via BNPL, ahead of credit/debit cards at 34% and cash-on-delivery at 29%.