With consumers under financial pressure, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aim to boost sales
As South Africa approaches the festive season in a year dogged by subdued consumer and business confidence, opportunities to boost turnover with Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are gaining favour.
Spar Group chairperson Mike Hankinson says record fuel price movements and continued foreign currency weakness indicate consumers remain under pressure and will constrain their spending. Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman echoes those sentiments, indicating trading conditions will not ease soon.
Almost 50 retail stores offered deals for Friday’s Black Friday, with some outlets holding “Black Friday week” promotions. Monday’s Cyber Monday is the opportunity for online stores to boost sales ahead of Christmas season trading.
Euromonitor International senior research analyst Christele Chokossa says the holiday season begins earlier each year as the traditional US and Chinese shopping holidays extend internationally, and are transforming shopping habits ahead of Christmas.
She says online retailer Takealot piloted Black Friday in South Africa in 2012 and grocery retailer Checkers introduced the concept more broadly in 2014. The trend gathered momentum in 2015 as distributors “joined the craze”.
The market researcher indicates Black Friday has shifted purchasing patterns, with Christmas shopping happening in November in line with the heavy discounts.
“Consequently, retailers have assessed their strategies to find ways to increase and maintain traffic during those holidays. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to become as important, if not more important, than Christmas holidays,” Chokossa says.
Euromonitor International consultant Amanda Bourlier says end-of-year shopping is essential for retailers as a good sales performance during this time secures a strong position heading into the next year.
“Shopper behaviour differs during the holiday season. Time-pressed consumers are open to new, time-saving services and different retailers,” she says.
Lebogang Mokubela, founder of the township-based retail marketing company Lemok Group, says in 2016 about 3.2% of shopping centre tenants participated in Black Friday. This figure rose to 21% last year as the global Black Friday phenomenon cemented itself as the precursor to festive season shopping.
Taleo Retail Advisory chief executive Sash Padayachee says a recent Black Friday Global survey reflects the average South African will spend R1654 during Black Friday this year, with consumers strategically identifying specific products as they adapt to constrained resources.
Among Black Friday offers, Toys R Us and Babies R Us South Africa promoted their sales as the opportunity for consumers to secure high-quality merchandise on a budget in time for Christmas. The group’s marketing manager, Nicole Jansen Van Vuuren, says discounts up to 70% applied to its biggest brands and were honoured in sub-Saharan stores.
Mr Price and Mr Price Home held week-long Black Friday promotions. Offers were a rand value discount off the advertised price of goods or bulk purchasing options – three for the price of two.
However, Debt Rescue chief exectuive Neil Roets called for level-headed calm, urging deeply indebted consumers not to splurge on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
He says the company has seen the impact Black Friday and Christmas shopping sprees have had on “reckless over-spending”.
“It is more important to implement fiscal discipline and save whatever money is left at the end of the month,” he says.