Black Friday hype begins as retailers test shoppers with ‘teasers’

JOHANNESBURG – Retailers’ gloves are off in the battle to gain market share ahead of Black Friday, with several deals already being unveiled to attract customers.

Consumer spending in South Africa is under pressure with rising fuel, utility and food prices.

Black Friday, the US shopping phenomenon of bargain shopping that sees stampedes on November 29, has become popular with local shoppers.

BankservAfrica last year said South Africans spent R2.89 billion on Black Friday sales, a 15.92 percent rise in sales compared with 2017’s R2.49bn.

Starting the retail battle early, Pick n Pay yesterday unveiled weekly exclusive Black November "teaser" deals for its online customers across Gauteng and the Western Cape ahead of Black Friday itself. 

The retail giant said its online delivery capacity had been ramped up. 

Online shopping plays a significant role in South Africa’s retail industry, with the Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study by World Wide Worx and Platinum Seed reports showing that online retail growth continued on a steep trajectory.

Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Mergence Investment Managers, said the growing popularity of Black Friday in South Africa resulted in last year’s Christmas season sale shifting to Black Friday.

“Companies cannot afford to miss out on Black Friday,” said Takaendesa.

Takaendesa said Pick n Pay’s Black November initiative was a dry run for Black Friday.

“Most of this is to test. Last year, on Black Friday we saw some companies had technical problems and stock shortages,” said Takaendesa.

Last year, customers complained about payment problems encountered on the Takealot website.

Makro customers were also last year left fuming after Black Friday deals were blocked after the retailer’s website crashed.

Marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk said South African retailers were mostly all missing the point of Black Friday.

“Generally speaking, when it comes to all this Black Friday hype, consumers should still compare prices, because in the past many retailers have offered so-called Black Friday specials which have turned out to be more expensive than normal," said Moerdyk.

According to findings from the Nielsen Advanced Analytics division last year, the event was stimulating growth within South Africa’s fast-moving consumer goods sector.  

"When analysing the effect of Black Friday, it’s important to appreciate the consumer context, including the fact that deal-and-value triggered behaviour has intensified in recent year. Shoppers have also become more discerning and look for promotions from their regularly-used brands and are less willing to switch brands for a seemingly good deal,” it said.

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