Consumers lined up outside malls and electronic goods stores in the hope of a Black Friday bargain deal, while Cyprus consumer groups sounded the alarm over possible scams.
Shoppers were attracted by ad campaigns of stores promising sales of up to 70% on products ranging from supermarket items to TVs and high-tech gadgets.
Black Friday, a tradition started in the USA which traditionally sees stores selling their products at very low prices, has caught on in Cyprus in recent years as more businesses look to increase pre-Christmas sales.
Marios Antoniou, General Secretary of the Cyprus Retail Trade Association, told Stockwatch that the average discount rate is higher compared to last year at 40% to 45%.
Antoniou noted that for the first time in Cyprus firms selling furniture are also joining in festivities with discounts reaching 60% in some cases. He said businesses are increasingly spending more and more on Black Friday campaigns.
Malls are expected to see a significant spike in visitors on Friday. Mall of Cyprus Marketing Manager George Pissis told the Financial Mirror that they expect to see a three-fold increase in the number of visitors as more stores will be joining the tradition.
He said Black Friday offers will not be confined to the day as some stores will extend their offer period until the following weekend.
Mall of Nicosia Marketing Manager Georgia Kakouli said they expect to see a 30% increase in traffic, with stores offering a minimum of 20% discounts.
She said consumers can take advantage of the Black Friday offers to get some early Christmas shopping done.
“Consumers may not see a big difference if they come to buy one item, but if they take the opportunity to get the Christmas shopping out of the way, they will have saved a significant amount of money,” said Kakouli.
Discounts at the My Mall Limassol start from 10% and in some cases reach a whopping 70%. Stores within the compound will be offering discounts on products ranging from shoes and clothing to electronics and homeware.
Kings Avenue Mall in Paphos will also be participating with discounts ranging between 20-50%.
Supermarkets have also announced sales on various products with the executive secretary of the Cyprus supermarket Association Andreas Hadziadamou noting that there will be a wide range of discounts on many products.
Hatziadamou notes that consumers are already aware of how to spot fake discounts.
Banks have also announced they are participating by offering to triple points earned on shopping paid with credit cards.
The Cyprus Retail Trade Association called on consumers to be careful and ask for clarifications regarding a store’s return policy and warranties given out for products sold during this one-off sale day.
Black Friday is the day after the Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November, marking the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Although this period was introduced in 1952, the Black Friday tradition has only gained momentum in the past two decades, expanding beyond the US borders.
A popular interpretation of the term is that on that day the retailers’ bank accounts were in profit, so their balance sheets instead of being written in red, denoting loses, were marked with black ink.
Consumers organisations advised shoppers to be extremely careful when rushing to take advantage of Black Friday deals and to be on the lookout for scams.
The Consumers Association is urging buyers to do their homework and get sales assistants to explain to them the store’s return and warranty policies.
Fools rush in first
Talking to the Financial Mirror, President of the Consumers Association Marios Drousiotis said that consumers should not make rush buys just because they found something on sale.
“They should decide what commodities they are in need of, search the market a few weeks before, note down the prices and decide whether discounts are really worth their while”.
Drousiotis said that people should not just buy a product off the shelves because its price has gone down, but should look at other alternatives, like the internet.
“The same product might be found cheaper online or at another outlet.”
He said there are a lot of offers out there and not to get carried away.
“Determine in advance what you need and the maximum amount you can afford or are willing to spend. Otherwise, if your goal is a mobile phone, you may end up with a high-tech TV which you do not need”.
The Cyprus Consumers’ Union and Quality of Life Association had harsher words to say about Black Friday special offers.
President of the Union, Loucas Aristodimou accused Black Friday of being a “scam” used by merchants to put their hands in people’s pockets.
“Black Friday was invented by international speculators, mainly Americans, who wanted to devise new methods to make money from the pockets of consumers. And of course, their peers in other countries, jumped on the wagon,” said Aristodimou.
“Is it possible that a day of offers, especially one dubbed as black, will make you happy? Suddenly consumers discover that they need commodities they never thought they needed.”
Aristodimou called on consumers not to fall for ‘trickery’ as shops are only setting traps with false offers.
“Consumers are always falling for their traps and what do they get out of it? They just regret purchases made and unfortunately in Cyprus, consumers can’t return items bought on such occasions nor will they be reimbursed.”
He explained that, unfortunately, the majority of shops do not have return policies on items bought during a sale period and consumers are stuck with them.
Aristodimou stressed the importance of cultivating a consumer culture and consciousness which will not allow retailers to profit at their expense.
He called on consumers to boycott Black Friday and other similar ‘stunts’ to prevent them from becoming an institution.