How Black Friday has turned into Black November in South Africa

Research from auditing firm and global consultancy PwC shows that the Black Friday craze in South Africa growing every year – and as retailers scramble to bank on consumers’ drive to spend as much as possible, Black Friday is quickly becoming Black November.

According to PwC, some 54.6% of South Africans took part in Black Friday in 2017, with surveys showing that 66.5% would take part in 2018 – buying at both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

This reflects a diversification trend in client activity that has resulted in local online retail growing by 25% in 2017, with a forecast rise of 25% in 2018.

“To benefit from changing buying patterns, retailers are extending their Black Friday offerings to a week or more leading up to the day and the days thereafter, including the ensuing weekend leading up to Cyber Monday,” PwC said.

“Retailers are also responding to the fact that Black Friday generally occurs ahead of private sector payday on the 25th,” it said.

The expanding of the day into a long weekend and, in some cases, week-long sales has seen Black Friday morph into what PwC consumer experts have referred to as ‘Black November’.

The effect of Black November

PwC said that the larger number of shopping days during the month has seen Black November shift holiday shopping earlier.

It has also been seen as an opportunity to stimulate sales in December.

“The November event drives visits and footfall at online and brick-and-mortar shops that exposes consumers to the products available in these facilities. Retailers have the opportunity to use this traffic for advertising and to keep consumer conversations going heading into the Christmas shopping season,” PwC said.

Black November – as opposed to a singular day – also pushes the retail sector in other ways.

According to PwC, it allows for improved logistics management as the demand for stocking and delivering products is spread over a longer period, with some retailers having worked since February 2018 to get their processes in order for Black Friday 2018.

“There has also been an associated increase in port traffic as retailers increase their international purchases earlier in the calendar year. Container volumes, which previously peaked in November, is now expected to have peaked in September already,” PwC said.

But with the opportunities, there are also the risks, the group said.

For companies of all sizes, the risk of website downtime, stock shortages and a lack of capacity at call centres are real risks during Black Friday. Retailers are challenged by short-term needs – getting customers in and out – with long-term reputational challenges of service delivery falling short.

“This has seen companies step up their customer service activity leading up to Black Friday,” it said.

The earlier preparation and launch of Black Friday deals is also reflected in online interest.

“Google Trends data indicates that up until 2016, online searches in South Africa for “Black Friday” were limited to the month of November. There was increased interest from October 2017, while this year’s online interest started in September already,” the group said.

Read: Why Black Friday comes at a terrible time for South Africa

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How Black Friday has turned into Black November in South Africa