The annual shopping bonanza of Black Friday is just around the corner, and odds are it could be the biggest one yet.
As much as South Africa is emerging from the unprecedented slump brought on by the hard lockdown in the first half of 2020, the economy remains far from robust.
Household budgets remain extremely tight, especially in light of the deadly violence and looting that rocked KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July this year.
Figures released by Statistics South Africa in September show that retail trade sales in July fell 0.8% year-on-year. While that may not seem significant, it needs to be measured against the woeful state of the economy in July 2020, and the fact that year-on-year growth in the preceding months of April, May and June was on a noticeable upward curve.
In other words, the riots severely dented what gains were made, the effect of which ultimately is felt by consumers.
Accordingly, South Africans will be seeking out deals like never before, especially since Christmas is only two months away. Citizens will be scouring the internet and retail advertisements in a bid to purchase affordable gifts well ahead of time.
The government’s easing of restrictions under lockdown alert level 1 is another reason consumers may flock to Black Friday, which falls on November 26.
However, while South Africa’s vaccination programme and availability of vaccine certificates are certainly cause for celebration, the trend towards online buying is likely to remain firmly in place, since many people are still fearful of contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Craig Lubbe, the CEO of South African internet auction and online marketplace bidorbuy, has some valuable insights to share about this year’s Black Friday, among them the convenience and safety aspects of shopping online.
“We are now 18 months into the pandemic, and it has impacted different families in different ways,” Lubbe says.
“Some people will have saved money by not going out as often, and may be looking to reward or treat themselves using some of the cash reserves they have built up. We may also see people looking to maximise their savings – and save time – by doing the bulk of their holiday shopping all at once.”
Lubbe also points to a pandemic trend known as ‘comfort shopping’, where people buy luxury items to lift their spirits.
“Equally, many of our customers may be having to work with reduced budgets this year, and this could lead to a focus on core items, including groceries and household products.”
Given the different variables, bidorbuy has decided to do something different this year.
Black Friday has traditionally been a one-day event, pressuring consumers to make snap judgments on their purchases, sometimes regrettably so.
This year, however, bidorbuy is extending Black Friday to cover the entire month of November.
“We believe this can make the experience more enjoyable, and we are able to offer more of our deals to our buyers,” Lubbe says.
“With the holiday season almost upon us and fewer people choosing to shop at malls during the pandemic, we believe that this extra-long Black Friday will give more people more chances to find the things they most want, and save money in the process.”
The extended Black Friday will also include a special promotion giving shoppers the chance to add their favourite Black Friday deals to their watch list. By sharing their watch list, they could win the value in bobBucks of the items they have added.
“And of course, sharing your watch list is a great way to drop hints about the holiday gifts you’d love to receive,” Lubbe says.
With extensive experience in the online retail space, bidorbuy is well placed to gauge buying patterns at this time of year. While consumers’ budgets continue to be stretched, one constant it expects to remain is purchases of big-ticket digital devices like HDTVs and smartphones.
“Because these are only occasional purchases, people are prepared to wait in the anticipation of getting a great deal,” Lubbe says.
“Lockdown has seen people spend much more time at home, and this is reflected in the growing popularity of home entertainment options – especially gaming – and on home refurbishment and DIY. We’re expecting our Home and Garden category to attract a lot of interest.”
The race to purchase items on Black Friday is obviously well-known by now, so it is important consumers have a plan of action, Lubbe says.
“Sellers could drop daily deals on bidorbuy at any time during Black Friday, so it’s worth checking back regularly during the day to avoid missing out. People who have particular items in mind should also plan ahead and start shopping as early as they can to be sure of getting the best deals on popular items.”
To maximise this year’s Black Friday shopping experience, bidorbuy offers the following tips:
- Do your research in advance to help you focus on your priority items;
- Price-check items in advance to be sure that you really are getting a great deal;
- Start planning early, especially given that many stores will be launching their Black Friday deals earlier this year;
- Sign up for newsletters so you’ll be the first to know when the hottest deals go live;
- Set yourself a spending limit – and stick to it;
- Avoid the mall queues by shopping online; and
- Make sure you know the relevant return policies and fees.