Retailers who responded to the Sports Trader snap survey on the impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday were happy with the consumer response to the discount day – but less happy with the impact on their December Christmas sales. (Please also give your view here, the survey is still open).

The majority (62%) of the retailers who responded to the survey were pleasantly surprised by the consumer response, which they describe as better than they expected. A further 38% say the response was about what they expected. Nobody was disappointed by the response.

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Sadly, the impact of Black Friday on Christmas sales was not positive for some sport and athleisure retailers. “Black Friday crucified Xmas shopping,” commented a sporting goods retailer who wished to remain anonymous. This view was shared by 59% of the respondents, who indicated that Black Friday had a negative impact on December sales because customers did all their Christmas shopping during the discount days.

Traditionally, December and January sales have to provide retailers with a nice cushion for the rest of the year. Consumers normally spend about 51% more on clothing, toys, electronics and jewellery in December than during other months, according to the FNB Credit Card division. Credit card spend on the above luxury goods on average increase from R241-m in a normal month to R365-m in December, the bank reports.

“I am very concerned about this Black Friday trend as I see the high cost of sales not warranting the turn over and greatly affecting (adversely) the Xmas turnover at better margins. Consumers use their credit cards for Black Friday, which they then settle in December with their annual bonus money,” commented a respondent to the Sports Trader survey.

A third of the respondents say that the Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts resulted in loss of income due to a lower than average turnover in December — but less than a fifth (18%) say that it had no noticeable impact on December sales.

“People end up buying things they don’t really need and buy them just because they think it’s cheap and that they are saving money,” commented another sports retailer.

But, nearly a quarter of the respondents (24%) believe that Black Friday had a positive spin-off as it attracted new customers to their store. And when the December sales were actually tallied up, retailers were not unanimous about the actual impact of the discount days: their December sales were slightly more (0-10% higher) than the previous year, reported 26% of the respondents. Around the same number (21%) reported slightly lower (0-10%) sales than the previous year. The same number reported a 10-20% drop in December sales.

Black Friday seemed to have given November sales a boost across all retail sectors, with Statistics South Africa reporting a 3.8% sales increase in November compared to the period a year before.  Black Friday is also credited with the 3.5% sales growth from October to November 2016, following a 0.6% sales drop between September and October. Clothing sales growth was, however, a disappointing 1.9%, compared to general dealers (4.7% growth) and hardware, paint and glass retailers who reported 5.4% growth in November compared to the previous year.

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