Since they were introduced earlier this decade, most shoppers have been suspicious of the “Black Friday” discounts offered by Ecuadorian stores.
“What many stores do is mark up the prices a few days before Black Friday and then offer the discounts,” says University of San Francisco-Quito marketing professor Carlos López. “These are still price reductions but are not the 30 percent, 40 percent or 50 percent that are advertised.”
The problem, he says, is that Black Friday marketing in Ecuador is relatively new and has few established norms. “It is an import from the U.S. where it has been around for 30 or 40 years and where shoppers are more saavy,” López says. “In the U.S., if shoppers discover that a store has marked up products before Black Friday, they will report it to government and business practice organizations. In Ecuador, it may be reported on social media but we do not have the same enforcement mechanisms as the U.S.”
According to López, most large stores, particularly those that are part of chains, are honest with their discounts. “They have more at stake with their reputations than smaller outlets and they generally have more sophisticated management. Prices will almost always be honest at stores in the Favorita chain [Supermaxi, Sukasa, Kiwi, Super Aki] and in the larger local chains such as Coral in Cuenca.”
Ramon Sanchez, business professor at the University of Cuenca agrees but adds that “buyer beware” is the best advice for consumers no matter where they shop. “You should always be suspicious when you see discounts of 60 and 70 percent,” he says. “Check out the other stores to make sure the savings are real and not based on inflated base prices.”
He also says that a “class bias” results in higher prices for shoppers not only on Black Friday but throughout the year. “Middle and upper class shoppers pay more in Cuenca because they prefer to shop at Sukasa, Kiwi and Supermaxi because that’s where the other shoppers of their economic status shop,” he says. “Most of them know they can save money at Comercial Solis, Coral or at the mercados but they don’t want to be seen where they think poorer people shop.”
Sanchez cited an example of disproportionate prices for high-end gas cook stoves at two Cuenca stores. “In one case, the same stove costs almost 20 percent more at Sukasa than at Solis and the difference for refrigerators was 15 percent,” he said.
He adds that shoppers for major items, such as appliances and televisions can often find the best deals from small stores in the historic district. “You can bargain with these shops and get significant savings whereas the bigger stores will not reduce their listed prices.”