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Black Friday a gimmick - expert

| Marketing and Promotions

Thousands of local consumers took advantage of the promotional Black Friday sales signalling the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

However, analysts believed it was merely a marketing gimmick, with Chris Moerdyk, a branding expert, saying that Black Friday had not yet taken off in South Africa, despite long queues at some shopping outlets.

“Few companies offered significant sales for consumers. Black Sunday is a marketing gimmick, and has not yet taken off. I question whether retailers actually understand the spirit of Black Sunday, which is giving really good discounts,” Moerdyk said.

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving in the US and since the early 2000s it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open early and offer massive discounts.

South Africans did not celebrate Thanksgiving, and local retailers went on a campaign to promote the sales in the media.

“It is a clever way of having two Christmases. It is also about getting rid of old stock,” Moerdyk said. He believed the long queues indicated that the retailers had not done their homework properly.

“Some retailers do not invest in employing cashiers when they have sales, and people end up frustrated and leaving the shops,” Moerdyk said.

Neil Schreuder, the marketing director for Shoprite Checkers, said a lot of planning was done beforehand to ensure the company was able to offer value to all. “There was a significant increase in the hype and excitement around this one-day sales promotion.”

While more than a million customers went through the door on Black Friday last year, Checkers expected an even greater response this year. Schreuder said the deals on offer were carefully selected to match what the customers wanted and needed.

“As a result, consumers queued outside Checkers stores from early this (Friday) morning for discounts of up to 50 percent on everyday items such as nappies, washing powder, breakfast cereal and milk. By just buying a 3kg pack of Omo, 850g of Parmalat cheese and two packs of Pampers nappies, consumers could save R360,” he said.

“Although the day is large, it is only a single day of trading; it signals the start of the Christmas season but the next five weeks of Christmas are significantly more important.”

Tamra Capstick-Dale, a spokeswoman for Pick n Pay, said it was not the first time that Pick n Pay had done Black Friday. “There are really amazing savings, with prices on some groceries and non-food items discounted by nearly 60 percent,”she said.

“Our stores have been very busy with customers looking to maximise their spending power before the holiday season. The specials will run for one-day only across all supermarkets and hypermarkets, with the exception of Pick n Pay Express Stores,” she added.

Banini Mostele, 52, from Orlando, who scored R100 off an iron at the Newtown Junction, said the stock available was not enough.

“I would advise that the shop should have enough product for us, for example have 100 items on sale instead of 20.”

Another consumer, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “It is cheaper today compared with other days, but the sale is about 20 percent. I have saved R20 and I will use the money to pay for parking.”

Pick n Pay, Checkers, clothing discount store Jet, Home Choice and Dion Wired halved prices on certain goods. Retail and consumer merchandiser HiFi Corporation slashed prices by 85 percent and bidorbuy staged a two-hour flash auction.

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