JOHANNESBURG – The retail bonanza of Black Friday has traditionally been the start of the Christmas shopping season in the US.
The day occurs on the fourth Friday of November following Thanksgiving Thursday. The ‘black’ refers to turning a profit, that is, retailers making profits as opposed to being in the ‘red’.
Black Friday has been a North American shopping event since the middle of the previous century. Starting in Philadelphia in the 1950s, city authorities referred to Black Friday as the day that scores of shoppers swamped Philadelphia’s shops after Thanksgiving and ahead of the annual Army-Navy football game held during the subsequent weekend.
South African retailers Takealot and Checkers both claim to have debuted the concept of Black Friday in South Africa in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Takealot is generally regarded as the local pioneer of online Black Friday, with Checkers being the first to do so in brick-and-mortar format.
Irrespective of its domestic origins, Black Friday is a cash cow for local retailers. BankservAfrica recorded R2.5 billion worth of transactions on Black Friday in 2017. The 4.7 million card transactions that it cleared on the Friday were double the daily average.