People force their way into Game Canal Walk, damaging the door while rushing for Black Friday specials in 2018. Research has shown that the Black Friday phenomenon has grown faster in South Africa than any other country in the world. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – South African consumers are planning to spend 36 percent more this year during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales than in 2018, according to a survey by PwC Strategy&.

The survey conducted by UK-based strategic insight agency, Opinium Research polled 1 000 South African adults between September 26 and October 4, 2019. It found that the average consumer planned to spend an average of R3 812 during the sales and 85 percent of consumers intended to buy something or would consider it if there was a good enough deal.

Research has shown that the Black Friday phenomenon, which traditionally kick-starts the holiday shopping season, has grown faster in South Africa than any other country in the world. It has snowballed into a whirlwind of big-ticket discounts across all categories, making it the most popular time of the year to splurge.

According to the survey findings, six out of 10 consumers who were planning to spend the same or more than last year were trying to take advantage of savings on offer, while 43 percent of these shoppers were hoping that more retailers would have deals this year. 

The PwC Strategy& report found that this shopping event was important for several reasons:

  • On Black Friday 2018, South African retail sales increased by 1 952 percent compared to an ordinary shopping day. Compared to an ordinary Friday, Black Friday sales increased by 2 571 percent in South Africa in 2018 – ranking the country in the top five globally.
  • South Africans are the second-most price sensitive society in the world, with three out of four consumers knowing the prices of goods that they regularly buy.
  • Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2019 sales will receive a boost from being held very near the end of the calendar month. Black Friday is scheduled for the 29th which this is after the private sector payday, traditionally falling on the 25th.

Key highlights from the survey

  1. Durable goods the most popular product categories: Despite consumers indicating that it is a not a good time to purchase durable goods, the most popular product categories during Black Friday/Cyber Monday will be durables like electrical equipment, technology goods, homewares, clothing, shoes and accessories. Food and drink are also becoming increasingly important purchases on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, as this is the main place that households are trying to save money. Some 30 percent of shoppers placed the food and drink category in their top three.
  2. Online purchases gaining strongly on in-store buying: South Africa shoppers plan to make 50.4 percent of their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores compared to online retailing (43.4 percent) and utilising virtual assistants (5.7 percent). On average, youth shoppers (aged 18-34) intend to make 51.5 percent of their purchases through online channels and voice recognition services, while those shoppers in the age bracket 35-54 intend to make 51.9 percent of their purchases through the same avenues. In contrast, consumers older than 55 will spend only 35 percent of their shopping efforts online or via voice recognition services.
  3. Customer experience is everything – retailers need to get it right: Retailers need to step up in the way they service their customers during this shopping bonanza. PwC’s synthesis of Opinium Research data on customer experience yielded four key customer experience priorities, namely: addressing crowds, physical and virtual queuing; offering great deals and big discounts; providing safety and security; as well as avoiding stock shortages.
  4. Finding information on discounts and deals: Social media will be the (joint) top source of deals information this year. At least 48 percent of male and 52 percent of female shoppers intend to research their purchases through this avenue. It is notable that South Africans spend two hours and 48 minutes on social media per day. About 50 percent of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers will also look at television advertising, followed closely in third place (48 percent of shoppers) by searching on general (non-retail) websites. Deals and clearance websites are the third most popular source of information, while lower down the popularity list, 40 percent of shoppers will source information from newspapers, magazines and leaflets.