Black Friday boom is shaking SA retailers’ Christmas tree

09 December 2018 - 00:04 By NTANDO THUKWANA
Shoppers hunt for Black Friday bargains at Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg in this November 25 2016 file photo. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/FREDDY MAVUNDA
Shoppers hunt for Black Friday bargains at Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg in this November 25 2016 file photo. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/FREDDY MAVUNDA

Black Friday, the US shopping phenomenon that started gaining traction in SA in 2015, may be displacing Christmas as the main shopping event of the year.

Statistics SA retail sales trade data show that since 2015 sales during the December holiday season have taken a dip after November sales get a boost.

Black Friday, dubbed the most important day on the retail calendar, may shift the shopping season, but other factors including currency movement and macroeconomics would also affect consumers' spending patterns, Lester Davids, a trading desk analyst with Unum Capital, said.

The fundamentals of the economy, are "a huge factor in terms of sentiment for consumers as well as retailers themselves being able to push through cost increases because of the rand,'' he said.

Takealot, which claims to have introduced Black Friday promotions in SA and ran a five-day Blue Dot sale, reached record sales this year of R196m - a 125% year-on-year growth in gross merchandise value.

Best sellers included fragrances, such as Tommy Hilfiger's Girl, the best-selling toy was the Jeronimo My First Sewing Machine and the most popular book was Prooi by Deon Meyer. Electronic devices, appliances and baby products such as nappies, were also snapped up.

Its subsidiary, online fashion store Superbalist, generated more than R40m on the day, with footwear and accessories topping best-selling items.

Luke Jedeikin, co-CEO of Superbalist, said "since first took part in Black Friday in 2014, sales have more than doubled each year. This year, Black Friday came just two months after the merger with Spree and so we saw an even bigger increase. We also extended our Black Friday sale to run across five days, making this year bigger than ever."

Game stores and grocery retailer Pick n Pay also said Black Friday sales were growing each year.

"Many customers took advantage of our grocery deals to stock up on everyday pantry products. Big-ticket goods such as TVs were also very popular as customers looked for the best deals on the items they have been saving for," John Bradshaw, head of marketing at Pick n Pay, said.

These special
days do distort
traditional figures.
David Shapiro, deputy chairman at Sasfin Securities

Debit and credit card transactions reached 4.8-million, representing 4% year-on-year growth, according to BankservAfrica.

Online transactions accounted for 7.7% of all card transactions, according to automated payments clearing house BankServAfrica.

David Shapiro, deputy chairman at Sasfin Securities, said the declining December figures were taking place globally as consumers were looking for bargains on high ticket goods during Black Friday.

Retail data show sales of white goods and furniture have been one of the best performing retail categories this year and strong demand is likely to have continued in November, boosted by Black Friday.

The retail sector globally had "a massive run in November", Shapiro said.

"These special days do distort the traditional figures.

"November has become a very big month. The holiday season starts in November in the US and it takes away from December in a big way, especially with the big ticket items," he said.