Black Friday: Get ready for a good deal ... of mayhem
But, having learnt from 2017, retailers say they're better prepared - so much so you may as well call it Black November
Set your alarm, load your data, study the catalogues, for Black Friday – the adult version of the Reggies Rush – is here.
The annual shopping frenzy, an historically American tradition, has become increasingly popular in SA over the past few years. In 2017, some stores attracted queues reminiscent of SA’s first democratic election, but with shopping trolleys instead of ID books.
Black Friday 2017 brought with it stampedes, damage to stores and crashed websites. This year, retailers claim to be better prepared for the hordes of shoppers looking for good deals.
“We are taking every possible measure to keep the site up," Klyne Maharaj, the head of brand at Superbalist, told Times Select.
“Our engineering team are preparing ahead of Black Friday, testing our systems rigorously to pre-empt any possible issues that may arise. If the site does go down we will have contingencies that allow customers to shop Black Friday deals in the subsequent days.”
The Black Friday concept was first adopted by online store Takealot and Checkers in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
With discounts of up to 50%, Shoprite and Checkers will be extending their trading hours and have done “extensive planning” ahead of Black Friday.
“All tills will be fully operational and additional security have been employed to assist with crowd control, to maintain orderly queues both inside and outside the stores and to temporarily close stores’ doors if and when the maximum number of customers are inside,” the retailer said.
To avoid the stampedes and congestion, some retailers, such as Game, will open at midnight. Makro has implemented a mobile paypoint system for customers buying a few items. They have also extended their Black Friday specials to run from November 21 to 25.
For online customers a team of high-transaction-volume IT specialists will be available to resolve any online technology problems during the Black Friday promotions, said Refilwe Boikanyo, the communication manager at Massmart, under which Game and Makro fall.
Makro has even partnered with e-hailing service Uber to offer a R50 discount on rides to and from its stores.
Strategy and behavioural economists at PricewaterhouseCoopers have warned that rational decision-making abilities are at their weakest on Black Friday. As a result retailers are able to leverage consumers’ cognitive make-up, getting them to spend more.
According to a report by PwC, BankservAfrica recorded R2.5bn worth of transactions on Black Friday in 2017. Facebook also showed that it was the busiest online shopping day in the country.
With Black Friday falling two days before the private sector is paid on the 25th of the month, many retailers have extended their deals until after Cyber Monday.
Consumer experts at PwC said this effectively means Black Friday has morphed into “Black November”.