Is Black Friday back with a bang this year?

by Aimee Miller. It is likely that we’ll see people making more strategic purchases and searching for deeper discounts.

by Aimee Miller. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see the same level of spending happening as we have in previous years, it is likely that we’ll see people making more strategic purchases and searching for deeper discounts, rather than bigger deals. Black Friday is a day of deals and discounts that has been touted as everybody’s favourite shopping day of the year. Many are starting to wonder whether this American inheritance will again bring the cash in for retailers on Friday, November 27. There’s little doubt that 2020, thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, has been a year of economic uncertainty and financial strain for thousands of consumers.

There are two areas of impact based on what the consumer will be looking for. One is home, and the other is financial stability, both equally serious and likely to influence purchasing decisions, and thus how consumers spend their money. Starting with the home, it is now more than the place where the heart is, but indeed the centre of our lives as the place where we live, work, socialise and educate our children. It’s likely that customers will be looking for things to make that space more comfortable, more user-friendly and more functional, be it by investing in an ergonomic office chair, storage solutions or home entertainment devices.

Secondly, from a financial standpoint, it has been a tough year for millions of South Africans, with debt levels rising to unprecedented levels. As such, financial stability and other money-related considerations are very likely to influence purchasing decisions, which means people will be looking for deeper discounts and added value, not only bigger deals. Many people who need to relook their finances will be considering alternatives to high-interest credit or hire purchase. In the first instance we are then likely to see a shift towards items that have longevity, as consumers look for items that make home more comfortable this year – and this could range from furniture to appliances, consumer electronics, home entertainment systems, gym equipment and more; as even under Level 1, social distancing is still encouraged and, in fact, prescribed.

Understanding current consumer priorities and challenges can help retailers ensure their offering is relevant. Beyond the product offering, traditional retailers will need to ensure they have the necessary safety measures firmly in place, including access to sanitiser for all shoppers, as well as a means of fairly restricting the number of people in store at a given time. Having said that, one only has to visit a supermarket or shopping centre at the end of the month to realise that COVID-19 certainly hasn’t deterred the majority of shoppers from visiting physical outlets. This is at least some indication that we can expect the usual rush on Black Friday.

Online sales

What we’re likely to see is a significant increase in online sales, rather than an outright shift to online shopping. We know from previous years that online traders struggle to handle the traffic to their site  on this day. This results in irate customers, less revenue and, importantly, loss of brand equity. The big challenge is ensuring the platforms are stable and that the stock is available. Having said that, we’re sure to see online retailers offer more exclusive deals, while punting that it is safer and more convenient to shop online. Anecdotally, we also know that the COVID-19 lockdown encouraged many people who had never shopped online before to do so for the first time this year, which is sure to see more people shopping online for Black Friday deals than before.

For retailers not yet in the game, Black Friday is the ideal opportunity to start shifting focus to their online offering. The ease, convenience and safety of online shopping really came under the microscope during lockdown, which is a good thing. The retailers that want to retain their competitive advantage (and relevance) will need to ensure their online offering matches their traditional offering.

Having said that, Black Friday is a day of good news in the form of great deals. And this year, more than any other in recent history, people are desperate for good news. Discounts and deals have a great feel-good factor to them, which will mean that many people will justify purchasing things that they can’t afford or don’t need. This is problematic in light of the fact that consumer debt is sitting at a staggering R1.5 trillion and that many of these purchases will be on credit, which just adds to the debt burden. But, the combination of great deals and high debt levels may be just the trigger for South Africa to match the globally surging, rental goods economy that is seeing consumers shifting toward renting furniture, clothing, technology, jewellery, tools and more.

So, while it’s impossible to accurately predict what Black Friday 2020 will bring, the shift to a more home-centred way of life is sure to see an increase in sales of appliances, consumer electronics and furniture, as well as other items that make a house a home.


Aimee Miller is Teljoy marketing, sales and customer experience manager. 



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