Israel Adopts Black Friday, Overwhelming Stores and Credit Card Companies

Israeli shoppers descend on a mall for Black Friday November 23, 2018 / Ynet Twitter

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Israel's "Black Friday" lived up to American standards, producing a surge in brick and mortar sales, online shopping, and customer fights.

Though Thanksgiving is not a national holiday in Israel, Friday is part of the weekend (and Sunday is a workday). As a result, the combination of steep sales and vacation day produced a surge in malls across the country, including a frenzy in some.

Malls adopting the American shopping tradition hope to reverse a multi-year decline in foot traffic. Though it is unclear whether the holiday shopping period can compensate for months of slow sales, Israel's Black Friday was a commercial success. Black Friday was only introduced in Israel in recent years, with consumers first taking advantage of internet sales. The discounts spread to brick and mortar stores this year as retailers try to compete with online sales.

Shopping surges periodically overwhelmed the national credit card infrastructure on Friday, according to Yediyot Acharonot, an Israeli news site. Automatic Banking Systems, which manages the transactions, blamed the introduction of "Black Friday" sales, which produced spurts of credit card use exceeding 10,000 per minute.

"Tens of thousands flocked to the malls, and others looked for deals online, swamping the credit system. Many retailers reported problems authorizing sales and slow connections," Times of Israel reported.

In one Nike store in Holon, near Tel Aviv and Israel's coast, fights broke out after employees tried to close the store and prospective shoe-shoppers forced their way inside.

In a statement, a Nike Israel spokesman blamed the "discount opportunities" for "provoking extreme emotions" among buyers.

Some stores, meanwhile, enjoyed more milquetoast shoppers.

Several thousand Americans, the vast majority Jewish, move to Israel every year. While estimates vary, some 300,000 American citizens are estimated to reside in Israel.

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