The concept of Black Friday first surfaced in South Africa around 2012. Prior to this, it was purely an American concept. Black Friday was reserved for the week after Thanksgiving in America to afford shoppers incredibly cheap deals just before the Christmas holidays.
The initial methodology around Black Friday
Stores would prepare themselves well in advance for Black Friday sales, which often got brutal as shoppers fought for the one-day bargains.
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South Africa adopted the same methodology when implementing Black Friday – offering specific deals only on one day of the month – this was generally also in November, usually the Friday following pay day, also just in time for the December celebrations.
But the brutality seen from customers and well as the immense damage caused to store infrastructure has seen merchants starting to expand the timeframe on the offers of their sales. While the prices aren’t as low as they could be, they are lower than usual and generally over a period of a week.
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Insights in Black Friday spend over the last few years from FNB
Chief Data and Analytics Officer for FNB Merchant Services, Nollie Maoto, shared some insights into the patterns of purchase they have seen over the years during the Black Friday period.
“When Black Friday was limited to one day (especially in 2018 and 2019) we saw a substantial increase in sales from a value perspective, beginning from the Monday leading up to Black Friday. We saw a 41% increase from 2018 to 2019 during this week. Furthermore, we saw a similar trend on the actual day, Black Friday, with a 51.5% increase in sales from 2018 to 2019 on this day.
“Cyber Monday saw a 20% jump in sales from 2018 to 2019. When looking at the value component between 2018 and 2019, the Monday to the Thursday leading up to Black Friday saw the most volume of sales, averaging a 51% growth between the four days. The actual day, Black Friday, saw a 31% volume increase from the year before, 2018,” she explained.
2020: Worst Black Friday figures
But those figures changed as the country hit the pandemic. According to Maoto, 2020 had the worst Black Friday sales from a value and volume perspective, as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown measures that were put in place in the country. And while 2021 saw a good recovery, it was still not up to the 2019 and 2018 figures.
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“Looking at the entire month of November 2021, we saw a 28% increase in sales value and a 19% increase in sales volume growth from 2020 which had experienced negative growth for both sales value and growth. This number exceeded the sales value and volume growth levels for 2019, surprisingly for the month of November,” she said.
E-commerce: A Black Friday champion
E-commerce has actually been the success story of Black Friday and Maoto says that it is continuing its streak into 2022, with every year seeing growth accelerated.
“Leading up to the week of Black Friday sees e-commerce already at nearly 90% of 2021 values and volumes, with the travel and accommodation sectors already exceeding 2021’s value by 10%,” Maoto explained. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday have produced a noticeable spike even over the last two years, so we’re expecting with e-commerce values and volumes to be approximately 40% higher as we head into the Black Friday week,” she concluded.
Absa records R60 billion spend
Meanwhile, Absa reported that it processed over R60 billion worth of transactions last Black Friday, a trend which is expected to continue this year.
As the first Black Friday falling outside of lockdown restrictions in two years, Absa anticipates further growth in debit and credit card spend as South Africa’s busiest shopping periods approaches.
“Following a record 200% increase in e-commerce levels in 2020, and a 231% increase in debit and credit contactless card volumes in 2021, Absa is bracing itself for another intense Black November. Last year, approximately 2.1 million Absa cardholders spent a whopping R1.3 billion on Black Friday marking a 10.71% increase in spend on the day since 2020,” said Christine Wu, Managing Executive for Consumer Product in Absa Everyday Banking.
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“Undoubtedly supported by an ever-growing list of innovative payment options including Apple Pay, Garmin Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and QR Payments. With cutting-edge payment options, we expect another busy Black Friday and indeed Black November,” added Wu.