While every year Black Friday does have some recurring specials and trends, it’s safe to say that 2020 will be a whole lot different from previous years.
Of course the biggest change to the Black Friday formula will be adapting in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, subsequent lockdown, and economic fallout as a result. And this should be good news for South Africans who will be looking for the best value from a spend more limited than usual. One the one side, retailers will be desperate to move unsold stock, and on the other side, consumers expecting lower pricing than ever.
In South Africa Black Friday has become synonymous with once-off retail sales deals, and was responsible for a 2,6% year-on-year increase in retail sales last year, so there’s no doubt that retailers will once again utilise it to their advantage, even if the strategy has to be altered slightly.
“We’re anticipating very high demand,” says Craig Lubbe, CEO of bidorbuy, one of SA’s online shopping and auction marketplace. “South Africans became a lot more conscious of their health and safety during lockdown, and footfall in the malls has still not returned to pre-Covid levels, which suggests that consumers are – understandably – still wary of visiting stores in large numbers.”
With Lockdown Level 1 still seemingly in place for the forseeable future, hygeine and safety protocols are still in place at malls, therefore in-store experiences will be hampered. Therefore, online shopping is set to receive a huge boost as a result.
“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’ll be minimal disruptions,” says Lubbe.
And as smartphone penetration among South Africans continues to increase, Lubbe believes consumer demand for Black Friday will similarly rise. Last year the number of smartphone users in the country increased to 91,2% up from 81,7% in 2018, according to the 2020 State of the ICT Sector report.
Smartphone usage means you can shop literally from anywhere, any time. “There’s been a remarkable change in consumer behaviour around this period, particularly on Black Friday itself, with our best deals starting at 00h00 on Friday morning, and this increases exponentially during the course of the day, with shoppers using their phones or desktops to find deals,” says Lubbe.
He believes that because of exceptional hardship for both people and brands in 2020, the day offers retailers, brands and manufacturers an opportunity to move stock that they’ve been sitting on throughout lockdown. This, combined with the safety and convenience factor of online shopping, as well as contactless courier deliveries or pick-up services like Pargo, will likely see many more consumers migrate from malls to e-commerce sites.
And retail isn’t the only sector looking to trade in a whole new way this November. The travel industry is perfectly positioned to capitalise on Black Friday because of the global popularity of online travel planning and the new wave of online travel companies.
Commenting on which categories of goods could look different this year, Lubbe doesn’t believe there will necessarily be any major shifts, given that people have had time to adjust to the “new normal”. Demand for consumer electronics is still high, and the company believes this will continue into Black Friday. Where excellent specials or deals could be found are in categories where products are regularly replaced by newer models, such as mobile phones and consumer electronics with regular lifecycle updates. Seasonal goods such as fashion could also represent great value.
One niche sector that’s showing a rising trend is gaming, and with two big consoles from Playstation and Xbox set to launch this November, demand is at an all-time high.
You can find out more about the upcoming next-gen consoles below:
- Xbox Series X & S: South African Pricing Confirmed
- Playstation 5: SA Pricing, Release Date, & What You Need to Know