One day is big boost for November retail sales
South Africa has seen the Black Friday sales phenomenon grow exponentially in recent years, quickly entrenching itself as a major calendar event on the local retail and shopping scene.
The Black Friday sales bonanza, which takes place towards the end of November, is now bigger in South Africa than before. It is a boon for retailers, shopping centres and consumers.
The Broll Property Intel report found increased retail sales in November have been bolstered by Black Friday, but December trade was slowing. “It begs the question of whether Black Friday will see November retail trade overtake December trade in South Africa the future. This has already happened in the US, where Black Friday originates,” says Elaine Wilson, director of Broll Property Intel.
Black Friday is a US retail tradition which takes place on the day after the Thanksgiving public holiday. The retail phenomenon has since gone global, reaching South Africa’s shores in 2016.
According to Black Friday Global, interest in Black Friday deals in South Africa has grown exponentially by around 900% since being introduced, and by 117% globally over the past five years. Black Friday has converted shoppers into “bulk-buying bargain-hunting insomniacs”, Wilson says.
It has also resulted in the emergence of the Cyber Monday sale, which punts online tech and electronics on the Monday after Black Friday. Citing Stats SA figures, Broll Property Intel’s report notes November retail trade sales (constant 2015 prices) overall increased by 18.2% from 2014 to 2018, while trade in December for the corresponding period increased by only 8.7%. November 2018 retail sales amounted to R87.630 billion, an increase of 2.9% year-on-year.
While December 2018 retail sales decreased by 1.4% year-on-year, retail sales for the month amounted to R104.336bn. This highlights the fact that December is still South Africa’s biggest retail sales month (almost R17bn more than November in 2018).
“December trade remains higher than November, emphasising that festive season trade is still the traditional shopping season. Data provided by Stats SA does, however, indicate December trade has begun to experience a decline in growth,” notes Broll’s SA Retail Snapshot report.
It also says: “Could this decline be due to Black Friday or purely the result of consumers finding themselves under increased financial pressure, forcing cautionary spend over the festive season? Or is it a combination of both?”
What is certain is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are growing in popularity and becoming entrenched in the local retail market, Wilson says.
“Additionally, if one looks globally, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not the only shopping trends making waves in the retail market.” She highlights China and online retail giant Alibaba’s “Single’s Day” campaign.
On November 11, 2018, Alibaba’s annual Single’s Day (now rebranded as Double 11) generated more than $30.8bn in online sales within 24 hours. In 2017, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined in the US totalled $10.6bn, compared to $25.3bn in sales for Single’s Day in China.
In South Africa, trends to watch this year include the growth of online sales around Black Friday and whether new campaigns such as Single’s Day will hit our shores. “This year Black Friday takes place on November 29. Black Friday in 2019 is after the 25th, which is traditionally payday in South Africa. This could result in higher sales,” Wilson says.