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SA's Black Friday queues are online in 2020 during Covid-19 pandemic

27 November 2020 - 09:09 By wendy knowler
While shoppers trickled in to physical stores early on Friday, online purchases are dominating Black Friday this year during the pandemic.
While shoppers trickled in to physical stores early on Friday, online purchases are dominating Black Friday this year during the pandemic.
Image: Darren Stewart

There may not be the usual crazy crowds of shoppers in stores this Black Friday, but many South Africans are sitting in online queues, waiting to pay.

With South Africans having embraced online shopping since the hard lockdown in March, and many fearing a lack of Black Friday crowd control in stores, the traditional frenzied shopper scenes in stores have not materialised this year.

“Also, our extended promotion, over four weeks, has been popular with customers and has, in our view, also reduced the weekend concentration of Black Friday shoppers,” Massmart’s group corporate affairs executive Brian Leroni said on Friday morning.

“We have also seen a marked uptick in click and collect orders of popular promotional lines.”

In the Game and Makro stores where shoppers are queuing, "Customers have been patient and friendly," said Leroni, adding, “Long may it last."

That’s a far cry from the scene which unfolded at Game in Century City, Cape Town, three years ago, when a huge crowd stormed the store as doors opened at midnight, smashing the glass.

This year, many bargain-hungry shoppers are battling to pay for their chosen goods online.

Superbalist, part of the Takealot Group which introduced SA to Black Friday in 2012,  has a red notice on its site, warning: “Standard Bank and Absa cardholders are experiencing difficulty completing payment.”

Takealot said: "One of the many metrics we monitor is the approval/decline rate across all issuing banks. There were three separate occasions this morning between 8.15am and 9.15am where we noticed approval rates for Absa and Standard Bank cards reduce drastically to close to zero.

"Approval rates for all other issuing banks remained normal (in excess of 80%). We provided the messaging on our site to customers to keep them informed and allow them to select alternative payment methods if required.

"We have also intermittently seen a degraded performance from Payfast (one of our two EFT providers) and they have assured us they are working on this issue. We will continue to keep our customers informed as we receive updates," said the online retailer.

Standard Bank said in response to a query from TimesLIVE that it "has ensured all our systems and channels are available to our customers on Black Friday".

"We understand it has been a challenging year for retailers and consumers and we want to ensure our customers can take advantage of this discounted shopping day. All our systems are operating efficiently and providing the necessary support."

If there are difficulties, the bank said customers should refer their queries to "the retailer concerned".

GET IN TOUCH: Wendy Knowler specialises in consumer journalism. You can reach her via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler