Israeli Black Friday Sales Down Despite Partial Mall Reopenings

Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane
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The Ayalon mall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, November 27, 2020.
The Ayalon mall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, November 27, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane

A number of Israel’s malls opened on a trial basis on Black Friday, but even with the option of bricks-and-mortar stores to shop till you drop, Israelis spent slightly less than they did on Black Friday in 2019, show figures from Shva, the company that processes credit card payments.

Over 24 hours on Friday, Israeli shoppers spent a total of 881.9 million shekels ($265.5 million), down 3.6% from the same time last year. Nevertheless, Israelis bought at a frenetic pace: At 12:12 P.M., the peak minute on Black Friday, more than 11,400 purchases totaling 4 million shekels were made, Shva said. That was down from the 2019 Black Friday peak of about 12,500 purchases.

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With many bricks-and-mortar stores still closed, online sales accounted for an even bigger share of Black Friday shopping this year – more than 55% of the total, up from 46% in 2019.

The authorities allowed 15 malls across the country to reopen to the public on Friday as part of a pilot program to see whether it will cause a rise in new coronavirus cases. But most malls remain closed and the one that are open are subject to restrictions on the number of shoppers they can admit.

Street-front stores were allowed to open earlier, but many have gone out of business and in many cases consumers have been shunning shopping altogether to avoid contagion. Internet shopping has grown this year as a result.

Overseas online merchants saw the biggest rises of all in purchases, a 20% increase from a year ago to 67 million shekels, according to the Israeli credit card issuer CAL Israel Credit Cards.

The reason for the big increase in shopping at overseas sites is problems with service and delivery when shopping at local sites, which buyers had been experiencing even before the Black Friday surge. The Israel Consumer Council said that as of November 24, the number of complaints reported to it this year had risen by 423% compared with the same time last year.

In addition, most Israeli online apparel merchants, including those run by the big chains and by smaller operators, don’t promise delivery in less than eight days. Overseas sites generally promise two- or three-day delivery on average.

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