South Africa’s love affair with Black Friday has just started

By: Nashil Chotoki (Retail Asset Manager, Redefine Properties)

Black Friday, a day after Thanksgiving, marks the official start of the Christmas shopping season in the US and is considered the “Super Bowl“ of shopping. The phenomenon which only came to South African shores in 2014, has grown from strength to strength, with sales growing over 3% and over 100 brands participating.

If South Africans show up at the tills once again, the retail sector will have much to cheer as retail trade sales year on year are at – 4% (SAPOA Retail Trends Report September 2017).

Given the current economic environment, South African consumers are cash strapped and remain largely focused on value purchasing, Black Friday is the ultimate leverage that gives retailers the opportunity to provide value to bargain chasing consumers.

With competition rife for footfalls and market share, mall owners are also being innovative to support retailers during the Black

Centurion Mall

Friday campaign, East Rand Mall for example will be piloting a flat parking fee for this year’s Black Friday.

The higher levels of traffic in malls also generate a significant spin-off trade for other retailers such as coffee shops, fast food outlets, and restaurants. Last year, even UberEats jumped in on the action offering 50% off at a number of restaurants in Johannesburg.

That said, there is a general fatigue being reported in the US with falling sales on Black Friday. Last year, shoppers spent less on Black Friday in the US and more online than ever before. Adobe’s data from last year shows Cyber Monday hit a new record with $3.39 billion spent online, surpassing Black Friday ($3.34 billion).

One other unintended consequence of Black Friday has been its disruptive impact on the traditional festive spending patterns as savvy consumers plan their Christmas shopping around Black Friday and Cyber Monday for best value. Mall owners and retails now need to include Black Friday sales when comparing sales data for the festive season.

Black Friday might be slightly off the trajectory in the US, but the real trend to watch out for is how it has been adopted internationally from Pakistan to Poland. If last year’s crowds are any indication, South Africa’s love affair with Black Friday has just started. Will the SA consumer also adopt Cyber Monday, when online stores offer bargain buying despite the high cost of data?

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