Black Friday had a slower start this year at the V&A Waterfront Pick n Pay as lockdown and budget restrictions make the population think twice before overspending. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Black Friday had a slower start this year at the V&A Waterfront Pick n Pay as lockdown and budget restrictions make the population think twice before overspending. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

It’s Black Friday, but where are the shoppers?

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Nov 26, 2021

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Durban - It seems people shoving each other to get their hands on Black Friday specials is now a thing of the past.

Social media users said most malls were quiet, and they were able to dash in and out for a bit of usual grocery items without hassle. It appears that many shoppers took advantage of the month-long specials offered at most malls.

Online payment platform Ozow reported that while many large retailers in South Africa have spread the Black Friday promotions over the month of November to help manage stock issues, logistics, and to mitigate overcrowded malls, it saw a major spike of transactions over the last week in comparison to 2020.

"We believe that there still is a psychological and sentimental connection with the annual shopping holiday itself, despite many of the same deals being available throughout the week or month. We believe that there still is a psychological and sentimental connection with the annual shopping holiday itself, despite many of the same deals being available throughout the week or month," Ozow said.

Ozow COO, Jerome Touze, noted that the impact of the tightened economy and the pandemic had been felt by consumers who are spending less this year. In comparison to 2020, the average transaction value in November has decreased by 23%.

“In comparison to 2020, there has been a 30% increase in consumers choosing to pay with Ozow – which aligns with the trend of more people choosing to shop online and use digital payment options like automated EFTs to pay for goods and services. By 10am, Takealot, Makro, and The Foschini Group were leading the charge with the most volume of transactions on Black Friday," he said.

He added that the number of transactions and the processing value between 10am and 11am were lower in 2021 compared to 2020. "This confirms our prediction that consumers are shopping earlier this year due to the rise of eCommerce and more people working from home," he said.

Debt Rescue CEO, Neil Roets, said from the images seen thus far, the shops were not as full as they usually have been when the doors opened on Friday morning.

“Where in the past we used to see images of queues and people rushing to grab items off the shelves, so far there isn’t much of that, though it could change during the course of the day. There are a few possible reasons for this.

“Black Friday has for many retailers turned into Black November, with different specials already happening from the first days of the month, whether it be online or in-shop. And many consumers have turned to online shopping, something we have become very skilled at since the onset of the pandemic, and even more so with the clear start of the fourth wave," he said.

Roets added that online shopping of course also comes with its own risks.

“Consumers must also exercise caution when buying online. Ensure that you are buying from websites that comply with security requirements, such as ‘https’, and buying from reputable retailers. Do not follow links from emails to avoid possible phishing scams. Rather type the URL in manually to ensure you are on the actual website.

“Another possibility is also that consumers do not have the financial means to take part in these special offerings, because of the impact of increased living expenses and possible reduced salaries or job losses due to the effects of the pandemic on their finances," he said.

He urged consumers to be cautious with their spending.

“This year has been incredibly tough on the majority of South Africans’ finances. Ensure you do your homework before you go shopping, know your prices and don’t get caught up in the hype by buying things you don’t need or didn’t budget for," Roets said.

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