/ 24 November 2023

Black Friday expected to pump R26.6 billion into economy

Crowds at the Mall of Africa. The recently signed National Credit Amendment Act aims to provide debt relief for over-indebted consumers who earn less than R7 500 a month. It could have a knock-on effect on retailers.
Crowds at the Mall of Africa. File photo by Gianluigi Geurcia/AFP

Economists at the Bureau of Market Research estimate that South Africans will spend about R7 billion more this Black Friday than they did in 2022. 

Cash-strapped consumers have had to tighten their belts significantly throughout the year, as interest rates, household expenses, petrol and food prices soar, but despite this, Black Friday spending is expected to increase from R19 billion in 2022 to R26.6 billion in 2023, according to the bureau’s research, conducted on behalf of retailer finance provider, Capital Connect.  

“South African retailers have increasingly designed the shopping holiday to focus on a Black November period, providing a larger volume of smaller sales during the month, rather than solely on the four-day Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend,” Anton Hugo, PwC South Africa retail and consumer industry leader, said.

The increase has been attributed to the rise in online sales, with payment provider PayFast stating that the number of transactions on Black Friday in 2022 increased by 20%.

A global consumer survey conducted by PwC found that growth in online shopping is driven by its ability to enhance what is referred to as the “phygital” — physical plus digital — shopping experience for consumers wanting the best of both.

The survey also found that South African shoppers have increased their online shopping in 2023 as load-shedding and the Covid-19 pandemic affected traditional retail options.

“Online channels allow retailers to connect with consumers higher up the purchasing process, in essence, before they have made a decision to purchase, and in an effort to influence the outcome,” Hugo said.

Black Friday comes as the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee voted on Thursday to keep interest rates at 8.25%, unchanged for the third consecutive time, looking past the recent surprise bump in inflation.

Providing insight on how small businesses can prepare for the big day, Rene Botha of Business Partners Limited, suggested that they need to bear in mind that this year has been financially challenging for many consumers. 

For this reason, affordability and value should be the two main focus areas for businesses.

“The bargain hunters will be out in their numbers, looking for the best promotions and sales, so the retail environment will be characterised by fierce competition. The key to gaining a competitive edge in a price-sensitive market is to review and adapt your pricing strategy,” Botha said.

While consumers are trying to find the best way to stretch their Black Friday budget, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) has warned that scammers are intensely active during this period.

According to Nazia Karrim, head of product development, techniques that are used by criminal syndicates during heightened shopping periods such as Black Friday, include: 

Fake shopping sites

Domain spoofing is when a scammer uses fake websites that mimic the actual websites of businesses. The spoofed website might collect personal information, including payment details, when you try to make a purchase or it could download malware on your device.

Account verification scams

These scams occur when fraudsters ask for personal information to secure an account. Consumers might receive a call, text message or email that looks like official communication from a company, and it may sound urgent — a common theme with such scams is a warning that someone has compromised your account. 

Billing error scams

This is a key tactic that scammers use to turn consumers into victims as it falsifies a sense of urgency.

Due to the increase in scams, the SAFPS has launched Yima, a platform providing free tools to combat scams.  

“Consumers can also inform themselves about how to identify a scam. Yima tools will enable consumers to surf the internet more safely, access online banking and online shopping sites more confidently, and stay actively aware and informed,” said Karrim.

One of the main elements of the website is that people can report a scam incident or any suspicious activity to the SAFPS.

The reports will be collated and shared with the relevant authorities.