23/11/2018. Crowds pushing their way into the Shoprite inSoshanguve Crossing for the Black Friday specials. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - South A frican shoppers made the most of discounts offered by retailers on Black Friday, with TVs, toilet papers, nappies flying off the shelves.

But experts quickly described the discounts as ingenuine.

Brand and marketing expert, Chris Moerdyk said despite the euphoria, discounts offered in South Africa were not as massive as those in the US where the Black Friday concept originated.

Moerdyk said prices remained on the high with Cyber Monday - which is directed at online shoppers - not expected to make much of a difference when it starts.

Moerdyk said,  "Unfortunately, South African consumers are being duped,” Moerdyk said. “Only a  few retailers are offering genuine discounts, and most retailers raised prices in October only to bring them down ahead of Black Friday."

Black Friday began in the US to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Locally, marketers used billboards, radio, television, the internet and print media to promote the fad, leading to thousands flocking the malls for specials.

Others opted for online shopping despite the country dipping into a technical recession and fuel price increases.

Discount retailer Game went as far as opening its doors at midnight to lure customers while Makro introduced an online drive-thru for its Riversands store in Johannesburg for customers to collect their selected online items.

Makro also rolled out a new mobile pay-point system to consumers to pay for purchases while standing in queues.

Most retailers were better prepared to deal with the large volumes of shoppers this year.

The focus was on crowd control, parking, and safety after  chaos last year.

Even the SA Reserve Bank’s decision to hike the repo rate by 25-basis points could not dissuade potential bargain hunters.

The Black-Friday.Global Analysis Team analysed Black Friday statistics around the world estimated that at least 66 percent of South Africans participated in Black Friday this year.

The group said up to 64 percent of consumers shopped both online and offline  with the rest either opting for traditional offline-only or online-only.

It said clothes, and not electronics, were favourite bargains.

BankservAfrica, the continent’s largest automated payments clearing house, said last year South Africans spent R2.5 billion on Black Friday. BankservAfrica said it cleared 4.7 million card transactions in 2017 - more than double the national daily average.

Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group said the decision by the central bank’s decision to hike the cost of borrowing to 6.75 percent on Thursday failed to dampen the shopping frenzy.

“The increase was not much, it will not have a major impact. If you budgeted for Black Friday go ahead and spend your money. However, if you overextend yourself you will be in trouble. South Africa is good on spending not manufacturing and Black Friday is a good example as the Chinese and not the South African economy benefits from Black Friday,”Roodt said.

BUSINESS REPORT