Standard Bank expects retailers to experience another bumper Black Friday weekend this month, despite consumers feeling the pinch from all-time-high petrol prices and a one percentage point increase in VAT.
The bank’s transaction volumes on its credit and debit cards rose more than 100% during the 2017 Black Friday period – compared to the same period in 2016.
Its data shows that while 90% of sales still take place face-to-face at merchants in South Africa, this is changing fast as consumers seek out deals at virtual stores like Takealot, Makro and Pick n Pay.
Looking at Black Friday transactions in 2017 specifically, Standard Bank said consumers are buying more online services and electronic goods than ever, with sales on Netflix, iTunes, Uber, travel tickets and online purchase at Takealot all increasing on the day.
Sales of big-ticket items like flat-screen TVs, fridges, laptops, cameras, iPhones, new Android models, smart watches also all saw a decided increase year-on-year.
Running shoes were also one of the most sought-after items last year, the bank said.
Another noticeable trend is for more people to do their Christmas shopping in November by snapping up deals on Black Friday, rather than waiting for a mad rush ahead of Christmas when most products are likely to be sold out.
“We are seeing that while the actual product may still be bought in-store in the majority of cases, a lot more shoppers are going online first to seek out deals, to queue early online to secure their deals, or actually conducting the entire transaction in the virtual world,” said Standard Bank’s head of card issuing, Ethel Nyembe.
With the economic tough times persisting for longer than expected, Nyembe warned against frivolous shopping, saying that consumers should not to buy expensive products they cannot afford just because they are on special.
“All decisions should be based on overall affordability,” she said.
Standard Bank noted a surprising trend throughout the year, with some customers keeping their credit limits low during the year only to request a higher limit ahead of the November and December shopping season.
“This is fine as long as the purchases will still be affordable and credit limits will not be breached. It all comes down to planning and saving during the year,” said Nyembe.
“We note that people often wait to see if there are specials on more expensive items like those mentioned above and then look to purchase quickly once they know the price. It is notable that appetite for electronic devices and services is on the rise and this is likely to continue,” said Nyembe.