What Is The Difference Between Black And White Friday

The bustling aisles and online carts during Black Friday and White Friday mark significant annual events in the global retail calendar, each with its own unique cultural and economic footprint. While both days signal massive sales and are eagerly anticipated by shoppers worldwide, they stem from different origins and cater to distinct demographics. As retail landscapes evolve, so do these two powerhouse shopping days, each adapting to technological advances and consumer preferences.

Black Friday and White Friday differ primarily in timing, geographic focus, and the nature of their promotions. Black Friday originated in the United States and marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, featuring widespread discounts across countless retailers. In contrast, White Friday is the Middle East’s counterpart, concentrated mainly in the online shopping sphere during the last week of November, echoing the Black Friday model but tailored to a different audience.

These shopping phenomena not only reflect consumer culture but also shape it, influencing shopping behaviors and business strategies worldwide. As retailers and consumers gear up for these events, understanding their key differences can enhance the shopping experience and inform purchasing decisions.

Origins of Black Friday

Historical Context

The term “Black Friday” was first used not in the context of holiday shopping but to describe a financial crisis, specifically the U.S. gold market crash on September 24, 1869. However, the modern usage of Black Friday began in the 1950s in Philadelphia. It was used by police to describe the heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving, as shoppers rushed to take advantage of the sales beginning the holiday shopping season and crowds gathered for the Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year.

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Evolution into a Shopping Phenomenon

Over time, retailers began to recognize the potential sales boost from this traffic. By the late 1980s, merchants found a way to reinvent Black Friday into something positive, using it to mark the time of the year when their profits finally moved from ‘the red’ into ‘the black’. The day has since evolved into a 24-hour spree of consumerism, with stores offering major discounts to attract large volumes of customers. It marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, a crucial period for the economy, particularly for retailers.

Significance of Black Friday

Economic Impact

Black Friday is a significant economic driver. In 2019 alone, consumers spent over $7.4 billion online on Black Friday, up from $6.2 billion the previous year. This does not account for the billions more spent in physical stores.

Consumer Behavior Trends

Black Friday has transformed consumer behavior. Many consumers now skip Thanksgiving dinner to queue up at stores offering early-bird specials. Others stay glued to their screens, taking advantage of online deals that often start well before the day itself.

Key Statistics

  • Online sales on Black Friday jumped 22% in 2020, as the pandemic pushed more shopping online.
  • The average shopper spent approximately $312 over the Black Friday weekend in 2019.
  • Electronics and clothing are the most purchased categories.

Origins of White Friday

Concept Origin

White Friday originated in the Middle East, crafted by Souq.com (now Amazon.ae) in 2014. It was introduced as the region’s version of Black Friday to boost the end-of-year sales by tapping into the global trend of offering enticing discounts around late November.

Regional Significance (Middle East focus)

In countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, White Friday has quickly become a much-awaited event. The naming was considered to give the day a positive connotation, associating it with purity and peace rather than chaos and disorder often linked to Black Friday.

Significance of White Friday

Economic Influence in Its Regions

White Friday has significantly boosted the e-commerce sector in the Middle East. Retailers report up to ten times the average daily sales during this event, proving its effectiveness in attracting customers and driving sales.

Consumer Behavior and Trends

  • The adoption of online shopping has accelerated in the region, spurred by White Friday deals.
  • Mobile transactions significantly increase during White Friday, with shoppers preferring to make purchases through apps and websites.

Comparison with Global Shopping Days

While Black Friday has a more extensive history and global presence, White Friday’s impact is growing, especially in the e-commerce space. It is tailored to meet the cultural and economic contexts of the Middle East, distinguishing it from other global shopping events.

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Key Differences

Date and Time

Scheduled Dates

Black Friday traditionally occurs on the fourth Friday of November, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. This date marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. White Friday, on the other hand, typically takes place on the last Friday of November, aligning closely with the global Black Friday timeline but adapted to regional preferences.

Duration of Sales

Black Friday sales often begin as early as Thanksgiving evening and extend over the weekend into Cyber Monday. White Friday sales, while starting on Friday, usually extend over several days, allowing more time for consumers to shop, reflecting the slower shopping pace preferred in Middle Eastern cultures.

Geographic Popularity

Black Friday’s Global Reach

Black Friday is a global phenomenon, observed from the United States to Europe, Asia, and beyond. Retailers worldwide capitalize on this day to offer significant discounts, attracting shoppers in droves both in-store and online.

White Friday’s Regional Focus

White Friday is predominantly celebrated in the Middle East, including countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It has been tailored to fit the shopping habits and cultural nuances of the region.

Marketing Strategies

Advertising Approaches

Black Friday marketing campaigns are often aggressive and high-energy, focusing on the urgency of one-time deals. White Friday promotions are more subdued, emphasizing the convenience and extended nature of sales.

Target Demographics

Black Friday targets a broad demographic, aiming to attract as many customers as possible with diverse product offerings. White Friday, while also broad, often targets more tech-savvy consumers who prefer online shopping.

Sales and Discounts

Types of Deals Offered

Black Friday deals typically include doorbusters and limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency. In contrast, White Friday deals may be spread out over several days, focusing more on bundle offers and higher discounts over a range of products.

Average Discount Comparisons

While both shopping events offer significant discounts, Black Friday often features steeper discounts on electronics and high-ticket items, whereas White Friday might offer more substantial discounts on fashion and lifestyle products.

Online vs In-store

E-commerce Impact on White Friday

White Friday has primarily boosted the e-commerce sector in the Middle East, with many consumers preferring to shop online due to the convenience and the broader range of deals available.

Traditional Retail Impact on Black Friday

Despite the rise of online shopping, Black Friday remains a major event for brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. and elsewhere, with many people still participating in the early morning rush to snag the best deals.

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Consumer Insights

Survey Data on Consumer Preferences

Surveys indicate that while Black Friday shoppers are driven by competitive pricing on high-value items, White Friday shoppers tend to prioritize a mix of deal quality and product variety.

Spending Habits Comparison

On average, Black Friday shoppers tend to spend more per transaction, driven by the availability of high-cost electronics at steep discounts. White Friday consumers may make more transactions but at lower values per transaction.

Economic Impact

Overall Economic Contributions

Both Black and White Fridays significantly boost the retail economy. Black Friday contributes heavily to U.S. and global retail sales figures, while White Friday is becoming a key economic event in the Middle East.

Impact on Small vs Large Businesses

While large retailers often dominate Black Friday, small and medium enterprises have increasingly capitalized on this day with unique offerings. White Friday also offers opportunities for smaller regional businesses to compete by extending their online presence.

Future Trends

Predictions for the Evolution of Shopping Days

Future trends suggest a blending of these shopping days into a more extended global shopping period, driven by online deals and changing consumer habits.

Technological Advancements and Their Effects

Advancements in mobile commerce, augmented reality, and personalized marketing are expected to further shape how consumers engage with these shopping events, making them more tailored and accessible across different regions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual sales event that originates from the United States, occurring on the Friday following Thanksgiving. It is characterized by significant retail discounts and is considered the kickoff for the holiday shopping season, with both physical and online stores participating.

What is White Friday?

Originating in the Middle East, White Friday is the region’s version of Black Friday, taking place in late November. It is primarily an online event where retailers offer extensive discounts, similar to those seen during Black Friday but tailored to a different market.

How did White Friday get its name?

White Friday was named to reflect a positive connotation, contrasting with the “black” in Black Friday, which often relates to traffic jams and overcrowded stores. The name also aligns with the color white’s significance in Middle Eastern culture, symbolizing goodness and purity.

Are the deals better on Black Friday or White Friday?

The quality of deals can vary greatly between Black Friday and White Friday, depending largely on the retailer and the specific market. Black Friday typically offers a broader range of deals across more diverse product categories worldwide, whereas White Friday deals are more concentrated on online platforms in the Middle East.


As the dust settles post the frenzy of discounts and deals, it’s clear that Black and White Fridays hold more than just economic significance; they are cultural phenomena that reflect and affect consumer habits around the world. While Black Friday has a longer history and a more universal reach, White Friday caters specifically to a regional audience, offering a tailored shopping experience that respects local customs and shopping behaviors.

Understanding these events in depth offers not just a pathway to better deals, but also insights into the dynamic nature of modern consumerism. As both days continue to evolve, they serve as a mirror reflecting the changing priorities and opportunities within the global retail landscape.

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