November is on our doorstep and many shoppers are looking forward to Black Friday specials.
According to BankservAfrica, consumers spent R6 billion on this bonanza day last year – exceeding retailers’ expectations.
Despite the tough economic times, retailers are still hoping to lure shoppers through this shopping phenomenon. But for many, it is no longer a one-day event; some are running specials throughout the month.
A boost for e-commerce
Matthew Leighton, spokesperson for leading local e-tailer OneDayOnly, says online sales are expected to increase because of the effects of the global pandemic.
“We’ve seen consistent growth in Black Friday numbers, and we expect this to continue,” he adds.
Between 2018 and 2019, the home-grown daily deals site saw the number of Black Friday shoppers double from those on a regular day.
“Internationally, well-established e-commerce markets are still experiencing growth, and we expect to see the same locally. A recent example was Asian e-commerce giant Alibaba, which reported a 34% sales growth in the June quarter.”
Leighton says that with the rapid growth experienced in early lockdown and the sustained business from both their new and existing suppliers, trade at OneDayOnly is up 100% so far this year.
“Level 5 lockdown gave e-commerce a massive shot in the arm, and we don’t expect the easing of restrictions will affect that,” says Leighton.
He points out that online shopping is always easier on Black Friday in that it gives you the convenience of purchasing everything you want without having to go from store to store or compete with other shoppers.
“Throw in Covid-19 restrictions, which will surely see long queues based on restrictions on store capacity, and retail shopping is taking a lot longer than it normally would … we’re likely to see a [continued] move away from brick and mortar shopping towards e-commerce.”
Leighton predicts that because of this there could be an even higher jump in growth this year.
“We will likely see some changes in terms of shopping behaviour online. In the last two years, high [website] traffic times were consistently in the early morning [between] 6am and 9am, as people tried to lock down their deals before the start of the workday, and then we would see a peak again around 11am and 1pm as people took their workday tea or lunch breaks,” Leighton says.
Another area where the sector could see a shift is in terms of time spent on the site.
“Usually, people spend up to three times longer on the site on Black Friday than on a usual shopping session. While this could be a stretch, we may see this gap close slightly as many people have become digitally and e-commerce savvy as a result of the lockdown,” says Leighton.
Ahead of the expected flood of marketing in November, consumers are warned to use their money responsibly.
“While there may be some marketing efforts that promote irresponsible buying and credit, we firmly believe that Black Friday is a great way for consumers to secure some genuinely excellent deals,” Leighton says.
He says the trick is to shop responsibly – with a list and a budget.
Avoid becoming over-indebted
Carla Oberholzer, debt advisor at DebtSafe, warns consumers to be wary of accumulating more debt.
“November is here in all its glory. You therefore have to be alert to avoid getting misled into taking on more debt. This year has been financially hard enough as it is, so don’t take part in shopping sprees and month-long ‘specials’. Keep your finances and financial situation real by not spending what you can’t afford.”
Oberholzer says in 2019, many retailers showed disappointing sales during the festive season due to the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“My professional opinion and guess would be that this year will be no different – [with similar success] even if we had a raw deal in 2020 because of the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic period and national lockdown regulations.”
So it seems Black Friday and Cyber Monday will again be good for shoppers and good for retailers, but may steal a little of the festive cheer from retailers’ usual year-end sales peaks.