By Philippa Larkin
JOHANNESBURG – Black Friday sales were expected to exceed festive season sales for the first time as Covid-19 has caused a seismic shift in South Africans’ shopping behaviour, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) said on Wednesdayyesterday.
Debbie Law, the retail sector head at RMB, said: “Lockdown has introduced more new online shoppers in the past six months alone than in the past few years. Retailers are investing significantly in upgrading their online platforms or establishing them for those who didn’t have this channel in place.
“Online shopping is a space that consumers are becoming more familiar with, and this familiarity, combined with people wanting to not venture out into crowds, will be a significant contributor to the role that online shopping will play in this year’s Black Friday.”
Law said in the past, with the exception of one or two sub-sectors, RMB had seen a relatively even split between Black Friday and festive season sales.
“But it’s more than likely to be different this year. Retailers have been luring consumers since the beginning of the month, trying to capture as much on the consumer’s wallet as possible. Traditionally, Black Friday has been associated with lower prices, which may encourage the constrained customer to do festive season shopping around Black Friday rather than waiting for December sales,” she said.
Black Friday has traditionally been about one day of discounted prices. However, this has changed.
“Last year, we saw the emergence of a week of discounts for technology products, and this year many retailers have already started off with 30 percent discounts on November 1.
“Will we effectively have a month of Black Fridays as retailers try to
capture as much of the constrained consumers’ spend as possible as soon as possible?” Law asked.
Online payment firm Payfast said on Tuesday that 1 to 2 percent market share that the e-commerce sector held within the retail space could double by the end of this year.
It said it had seen a 100 percent increase in online transactions between April and May.
Data released by Standard Bank on Tuesday showed that between April and September during the lockdown the increase in value of spend at online general merchandise stores increased by 458 percent year on year.
To take advantage of this change in behaviour, both brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers are hoping to maximise sales.
Retailer Game has boosted its online strategy.
Following the announcement that Game would run a full month of Black Friday deals in November, the retail giant has said it expanded its partnership with Uber Eats and has increased staffing levels this month.
Game said the partnership with Uber Eats, which was launched during lockdown level 5 to deliver essential goods exclusively, would be expanded for the month to include small electronics and home office essentials.
“2020 has been a transformative year for most sectors, and retail particularly has undergone massive shifts. In order to ensure we are able to keep our staff and customers safe, while providing a positive customer experience, we took the decision to rethink the way we approach Black Friday, which is one of the biggest events on our calendar,” said Andrew Stein, the vice-president of Game.
Consumers can expect a delivery timeline of 10 to 14 days on all Black Friday orders, Game said. The delivery fee is capped at R90, with the exception of additional large items added to an order (such as fridges and chest freezers), which will carry a R70 surcharge per item, per order, Game said.
The same Black Friday deals would be available online and in-store.
Game’s weekly deals will run from November 2 to 29, with each of the four weeks offering different deals. The first set of deals will be announced and launched online at midnight November 1 and be available exclusively for that week.
Game said it would also run Cyber Monday deals on Monday, November 30, exclusively online.
In an interview with Business Report this week, online department store Loot.co.za said it expected to see a hike in turnover increase over the upcoming Black Friday period.
Loot.co.za chief executive Greg le Roux said: “During the 2019 Black Friday period, we experienced double-digit growth. Hence we expect this year’s performance to be greater in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He said these new customers would not return to their traditional methods of shopping and “most certainly not during the crazy period of Black Friday and Festive, with overcrowded shops during a global medical pandemic. Therefore, we are predicting a bumper season this year.”