In 2019, South Africans splurged a reported R6 billion on Black Friday deals, exceeding retailers’ expectations.
This year – despite the economic damage wreaked by the pandemic – it could be an even bigger retail event than the festive season, for the first time.
“In the past, with the exception of one or two sub-sectors, we have seen a relatively even split between Black Friday and festive season sales,” says Debbie Law, retail sector head at RMB. “But it’s more than likely to be different this year. Retailers have been luring consumers since the beginning of the month trying to capture as much of the consumer’s wallet as possible.”
Some retailers – including Makro and Game – have announced that they will be running month-long Black Friday specials, rather than a single-day bonanza on 27 November.
Law adds that consumers have been actively encouraged, through evocative marketing ploys, to complete their festive season shopping during the extended Black Friday. This coincides with health and safety fears around social gatherings, particularly in enclosed environments like shopping centres.
“Online shopping is a space that consumers are becoming more familiar with and this familiarity, combined with people wanting to not venture out into crowds, will be a significant contributor to the role that online shopping will play in this year’s Black Friday,” explains Law.
Law added that changes in consumer behaviour since the lockdown started will also have an impact on Black Friday. People have become more conscious around value for money and their definitions of what they see as luxury items.
“They are also evaluating what is need to have and what is essential. This places retailers prepared to offer large discounts for value items at the front of the queue.
“We are seeing a slight exception in the technology devices which can be used for work from home, school from home and home entertainment. Smartphones and laptops seem to have been quite popular and deemed worth spending a little more on,” Law said.
While other retail categories have suffered amid the lockdown, sales of office equipment and stationery boomed as South Africans, including school children, were forced to work from home.
The market research organisation Gfk reports that sales of these products saw year-on-year growth of 83% between January and August in South Africa.
“After a gruelling year that has hit many South Africans in the pocket, we’re expecting to see demand from two types of consumer over Black Friday: the reset spender, looking for genuine bargains after months of holding back and the revenue spender, looking for deals that let them trade up to premium products,” says Nicolet Pienaar, head of market insights at GfK South Africa.