Black Friday online sales could get boost from coronavirus pandemic

25 September 2020 - 13:51
By Kgaugelo Masweneng, kgaugelo masweneng AND Kgaugelo Masweneng
South African shopping habits might change on Black Friday because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. File photo.
Image: 123RF/ GUI YONGNIAN South African shopping habits might change on Black Friday because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. File photo.

Black Friday could get an online boost from the coronavirus pandemic as shoppers embrace the “new norm” of not flocking to retail stores unnecessarily.

bidorbuy CEO Craig Lubbe said they were anticipating very high demand for online shopping during the bargain day.

“South Africans became a lot more conscious of their health and safety during lockdown, and footfall in malls has still not returned to the levels before Covid-19, which suggests consumers are, understandably, still wary of visiting stores in large numbers,” said Lubbe.

With national government protocols under lockdown level 1 keeping requirements for social distancing at 1.5m and the mandatory wearing of face masks, the in-store experience this year could be difficult to manage for shoppers and retailers.

“There’s been a remarkable change in consumer behaviour about this period, particularly on Black Friday itself, with our best deals starting at midnight on Friday morning. This increases exponentially during the course of the day, with shoppers using their phones or desktops to find deals,” said Lubbe.

“E-commerce sites, on the other hand, are well positioned to address these challenges by offering a safe, convenient shopping experience which is becoming increasingly accessible for ordinary consumers. Black Friday is one of the busiest periods of the year for us, and despite annual traffic surges in late November, we’ve been able to avoid any downtime on our site, which may give shoppers a level of comfort in knowing there will be minimal disruptions,” Lubbe said.

Last year the number of smartphone users in SA increased to 91.2%, up from 81.7% in 2018, according to the 2020 state of the ICT Sector report.

A similar trend may emerge with travel.

James Woolley, leading aparthotel operator of Totalstay, said the travel industry was well positioned to capitalise on Black Friday because of the global popularity of online travel planning.

“We haven’t released our promotions yet, but expect to see some deep discounts of up to 40%.

“Because international travel over high-season periods like November to March is still limited, a lot more accommodation inventory is now available for the coming summer than we normally would have at this time of the year.”

Commenting on which categories of goods could look different this year, Lubbe said one niche sector showing a rising trend was online gaming. Two major gaming console releases took place this year, and bidorbuy has seen  increased demand in online gaming vouchers as people spend more leisure time at home.

“I think this lifestyle trend will continue, especially as new consoles and games enter the market,” Lubbe said.