Here's what bargain hunters are buying ahead of Black Friday

27 November 2019 - 08:51 By WENDY KNOWLER and TimesLIVE
For some, the must-have bargain buy is a school file; for others, a bottle of whiskey or perfume.
For some, the must-have bargain buy is a school file; for others, a bottle of whiskey or perfume.
Image: 123RF/Nonwarit Pruetisirirot

A mix of spoils and essentials make up Takealot’s “practice run” Black Friday best-seller list.

For the first time this year, SA’s biggest online retailer, which introduced the US retail phenomenon to this country in 2012, kicked off the annual spend fest with its “Early Access” special deals on Sunday, insisting that the prices won’t be topped during Black Friday “proper”.

Its top sellers since Sunday morning include:

  • Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
  • Montego Classic Adult dog food
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Film camera
  • Calvin Klein perfume
  • DStv Explora Decoder
  • White folding table (top seller in 2018 as well)
  • Croxley A4 Hard Cover Display File

Takealot's best-selling high-ticket items so far are the Xbox One S Console, a Hisense stainless steel dishwasher, the Philips airfryer, Samsung 43” Smart TV and Sony wireless noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones.

South Africans have embraced Black Friday in a huge way; more so than consumers in most other countries. According to website Black Friday Global, last year SA had a 1,952% increase in sales compared to an ordinary day, a spike second only to Germany’s — and only just.

The world average was a 663% spike, with sales in Australia up by “just” 871% and the UK up 1,708%.

The average discount in SA was 60% last year, but that’s based on the discounts claimed by the retailers — many consumers pointed out that in some cases prices were increased in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, to inflate the actual saving.

If any of those early splurgers regret their online purchases by the time they are delivered, they have seven days to send them back, for a full refund, thanks for the Electronic Communication and Transactions Act. When buying something from a bricks-and-mortar shop, a consumer only has the right to return it for a refund, within six months, if it is defective, though many will do an exchange or offer a credit note for “change-of-heart” purchases.

  • Shoppers are warned to be vigilant on Black Friday, as this is the day consumers are cyber-attacked the most, according to experts.

“Those who do their shopping online are at risk the most of being tricked by potential fraudsters, who will be offering fraudulent deals, from their fraudulent companies that will be operating as if they are legitimate businesses online,” said electronic security company LAWtrust. “When hackers access confidential customer information, such as banking details, physical addresses and other personal information, they use this to perform other transactions that a customer is not aware of and ultimately cannot trace. Caution during Black Friday and the holiday season is incredibly important.”

Retailers are also at risk because of the high number of payments processed on online platforms and on in-store point-of-sale systems, the large sums of money transferred, and sensitive customer information stored and processed, such as banking and card information.

“Most cyberattacks on retail companies happen in the e-commerce space. However, in-store point-of-sale systems are not immune to the treats. With Black Friday around the corner and the festive season looming, it is a boom time for cyber criminals. Retailers must be aware and implement strategies to guard their businesses, both online and in-store,” said Charl Ueckermann, CEO at AVeS Cyber Security.

Ueckermann said they have encountered numerous organisations that have limited to no protection on point-of-sale devices. He recommends retailers ensure they have antivirus capabilities specifically designed for these systems. “Mobile payment systems should be subjected to regular patches, updates and equipment upgrades to protect against continually evolving threats,” he said.

Maeson Maherry, solutions director at LAWtrust, offered these tips for South Africans:

• Always remember that any interaction that comes via e-mail that you did not initiate needs careful inspection to establish if it is authentic. Attacks as if “phishing” will send you an e-mail from an impersonated identity making you an offer that may be too good to be true. This will then get you to follow a link included in the email that will lead to a fraudulent website.

• Be sure to look for the indication of a secure website to certify that it is an entity that really exists. You can see that it is a secure website by the first part of the website URL that will be https://, with the “s” standing for secure. You will also see the browser displaying a yellow padlock which shows that the site has been identified by a Certificate Authority that did identity proofing on the company and website.

• To be safer, one should simply type in the URL of an online retailer instead of following prompts and links from e-mails or search engines. This way you are sure of shopping where you intended to instead of entering a fake retail site. Researchers say that more than 100,000 fake retail sites were detected during the last Black Friday and holiday shopping season.

• Be careful of downloading apps from websites or from links in e-mails. Rather look for the app yourself on the relevant app store and make sure you are getting a shopping app from a legitimate company.

A just-released top-clicked phishing report by KnowBe4 shows that simulated phishing tests with an urgent message to check a password immediately were most effective, with 43% of users falling for it.

“As cybersecurity threats persist, more and more end users are becoming security minded,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4. “They have a vested interest in protecting their online lives, so a message that sounds urgent related to their password can entice someone to click. The bad guys are always looking for clever ways to trick end users, so they need to remain vigilant.”

GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler for advice with your consumer issues via e-mail: or on Twitter: @wendyknowler