By Tara Roshani, citizen journalist
A wave of promotional text messages were sent to Iranian consumers ahead of Black Friday, an annual shopping extravaganza in many countries coinciding with the last Friday of November.
Offers of enticing discounts whipped Iranian shoppers into a frenzy of anticipation, but the stark reality painted a different picture.
Buying activity remained subdued, as prices showed little sign of retreating.
This discrepancy between the promotional hype and actual buying behavior highlights a fundamental flaw in the Iranian Black Friday experience in the Iranian context.
The Black Friday shopping spree, which originated in the United States decades ago, unofficially launches retailers into the holiday shopping season.
In the US and Europe, Black Friday has become synonymous with massive discounts, which often reach 90 percent.
In order to snag the best deals, some shoppers camp out overnight for Black Friday sales at the doors of popular stores.
In recent years, the adoption of Black Friday has become increasingly prevalent globally.
In Iran, retailers have only recently embraced the concept in an attempt to replicate the success of their overseas counterparts.
However, discounts in Iran typically range from 15 percent to 60 percent, significantly lower than the substantial reductions offered in Western markets.
This has left many Iranian consumers feeling deceived and disillusioned.
Niloofar, a frequent visitor of a popular Tehran shopping center, expressed her skepticism regarding Black Friday.
"I've noticed that many shopkeepers have inflated prices by 20 to 30 percent in the past week," she says. "Now they're enticing us to buy with the same price or a slight discount."
Her comments echo the feelings of many Iranian consumers who perceive Black Friday discounts as misleading and fake.
As a result, Black Friday has failed to significantly impact consumer behavior in Iran despite the promotional campaigns that accompany that day.
A look inside shopping malls show that Black Friday discounts have primarily attracted regular customers.
That’s because ballooning inflation and dwindling purchasing power have made Black Friday irrelevant to many families.
"The 15, 20, 30, 40, and even 60 percent discounts offered by these stores are meaningless," Ramin says after visiting a shopping mall with his wife and two daughters.
"For instance, a pair of girls' blouses and pants pants from a popular brand is priced at 2,500,000 tomans ($50). The price drops to around 1,000,000 tomans ($20) after a 60 percent discount, which remains unaffordable for many families," he says.