By Shakir Reshamwala
So-called ‘Black Friday’, the day following American Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day in the US. Thanksgiving in the US is celebrated on the last Thursday of November, and on Friday, retailers offer aggressive discounts to herald the start of the Christmas shopping season. For decades, Black Friday was a mostly American affair, but in the past few years, the phenomenon has spread around the world, mostly coinciding with the dawn of the digital age.
Can Kuwait – where shopping is a national pastime – be left behind? Retailers in the country have embraced this shopping frenzy with gusto, with the entire month of November devoted to seemingly unbeatable deals, especially after retailers in China came up with Singles’ Day on Nov 11 (11.11), which is now the world’s biggest shopping day.
But since black is seen as a color of mourning and sorrow, and Friday being an Islamic day of worship and rest, ‘Black Friday’ is rarely used in Kuwait and the wider region. Instead, you have White Friday, Blue Friday and Yellow Friday, while other sellers are holding Super Friday and even Meat Friday sales. One retailer is touting White Wednesday offers, while another has branded the entirety of November as Yellow Month.
Not that consumers in Kuwait need any excuse to hit the malls – these are the places to be. In the scorching heat of the summer, malls are an air-conditioned respite, while in the long nights of winter, their bright lights offer a warm welcome. In Kuwait, shopping centers are major touristic destinations in their own right. From traditional old souqs to gargantuan malls, visitors can spend the entire day shopping, dining or simply hanging out with friends and family.
So it’s no wonder businesses are leaving no stone unturned to attract this footfall. Competition is fierce, with supermarkets releasing new flyers every Wednesday with hundreds of discounted products. There are apps that aggregate all these circulars so that shoppers can compare prices and compile shopping lists from the comfort of their homes. No time to go to the store? No problem, as online shopping is a click away, with a variety of payment and delivery options.
But retailers must choose their loss leaders wisely, as a difference of a few fils can determine where people will make a beeline for. In Kuwait’s cutthroat market, consumers are very discerning and extremely smart. For most everyday products, there is no brand or store loyalty – only those vendors offering the cheapest prices and biggest discounts are likely to win the patronage of buyers. To stay in the black, a few November Fridays of various hues are just not enough for most retailers. The show must go on the entire year.