The expanding of the day into a long weekend and, in some cases, weeks-long sales has seen Black Friday morph into ‘Black November’. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – About 54.6 percent of South Africans took part in Black Friday last year, with the Picodi.com survey finding that 66.5 percent would be taking part this year. 

Respondents indicated that they are planning to spend on average R1 654 on their Black Friday purchases in 2018. 

About 64.4 percent of survey respondents indicated that they would be buying at both online and in brick-and-mortar stores this year, compared with just 39.6 percent in 2017. This reflects a diversification trend in client activity that has resulted in South African online retail growing by 25 percent in 2017 with a forecast rise of 25 percent in 2018 as well.

In order to benefit from changing buying patterns, retailers are extending their Black Friday offerings to a week or more leading up to the day and the days thereafter, including the ensuing weekend leading up to Cyber Monday. 

Retailers are also responding to the fact that Black Friday generally occurs ahead of private sector payday on the 25th. While salaries are likely to be paid out on the 23rd this year due to the 25th falling on a Sunday, this is the exception. 

It has been suggested that South African retailers should collectively reschedule Black Friday to after the 25th. However, this is unlikely to happen, as local companies would risk losing business to international Black Friday promotions that would continue on the day after Thanksgiving. 

The expanding of the day into a long weekend and, in some cases, weeks-long sales has seen Black Friday morph into what PwC consumer experts have referred to as ‘Black November’. Furthermore, a larger number of shopping days during the month has seen Black November shift holiday shopping earlier. 

Stimulate December sales

Nonetheless, Black Friday is also seen as an opportunity to stimulate sales in December. 

The November event drives visits and footfall at online and brick-and-mortar shops that exposes consumers to the products available in these facilities. Retailers have the opportunity to use this traffic for advertising and to keep consumer conversations going heading into the Christmas shopping season.

Black November – as opposed to a single day – allows for improved logistics management as the demand for stocking and delivering products is spread over a longer period. Some retailers have been working since February this year to get their processes in order for Black Friday 2018.

There has also been an associated increase in port traffic as retailers increase their international purchases earlier in the calendar year. Container volumes, which previously peaked in November, is now expected to have peaked in September already.

For companies of all sizes, the risk of website downtime, stock shortages and a lack of capacity at call centres are real risks this week. 

Retailers are challenged by short-term needs – getting customers in and out – with long-term reputational challenges of service delivery falls short. This has seen companies step up their customer service activity leading up to Black Friday.

The earlier preparation and launch of Black Friday deals is also reflected in online interest. Google Trends data indicates that up until 2016, online searches in South Africa for “Black Friday” were limited to the month of November. There was increased interest from October 2017, while this year’s online interest started in September already. 

Content supplied by PwC Strategy& economists Lullu Krugel, Christie Viljoen and Maura Feddersen with contributions from Nina Kirsten and Genevieve Frydman

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE