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Cyber Monday deals spike Israeli spending seven-fold

Cyber Monday deals resonate with Israelis used to paying more than Americans for daily goods, spurring a big leap in weekend spending.

By Staff writer / December 2, 2013

A Palestinian vendor sells balloons and Christmas hats at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 1, 2013.

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Jerusalem

America’s post-turkey shopping spree is taking off around the world, and Israel is one of the most enthusiastic adopters.

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Jerusalem bureau chief

Christa Case Bryant is The Christian Science Monitor's Jerusalem bureau chief, providing coverage on Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as regional issues.

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Last year, Israelis spent seven times more over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend than their daily average – second only to Colombians, who spent 11 times more, and tied with the Irish – according to a survey by FiftyOne, an international e-commerce solution provider. 

After living here for a year, it’s easy to see why American deals would be so appealing for Israelis. Despite the fact that the average Israeli wage is significantly lower than the average American wage – 9,297 shekels a month ($2,640) compared to $3,084, according to the countries’ respective national statistics – almost all consumer products are more expensive in Israel than in the US.

Gas costs roughly $8 per gallon, as does milk, despite the fact that you can almost see Saudi Arabia – one of the most oil-rich countries in the world – from southern Israel. Furniture at Ikea is about 30 percent more than in America. Clothes are so expensive that some people wait for their once-a-year trip to the US to shop, bringing home an extra suitcase full of Old Navy or Gap items.

Books are hard to find and similarly overpriced (though clever folks have developed work-arounds; I knew one young soldier whose dad traveled to the US frequently for work, so he joked that he had his own personal Amazon air courier service). And Israel imposes taxes of close to 100 percent on new cars, though there are deductions for greener cars.

Of course, Cyber Monday deals probably don’t extend to international car shipping. But when imports of all kinds put such a dent in your pocketbook, saving $20 on a pair of sneakers here and $50 on some electronic equipment can help keep the car full of gas.

Israeli websites such as Buy2USA, which enables Israelis to buy stuff at US e-commerce sites like Amazon or Zappos and then have it shipped to them, have offered special deals for this weekend, according to the Jerusalem Post

Thanks to such arrangements, US retailers saw international sales triple last year, according to the FiftyOne survey.

But Israeli retails are standing to benefit as well, as they take a page out of the American playbook and offer their own Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, the Post reports.

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