Black Friday has placed retailers in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t position. If you are the only trader NOT to attract shoppers to your store with great discount deals, your customers are going to buy from your competition. But, about two-thirds of the industry retailers who gave us feedback last year believe that Black Friday shopping had a negative impact on their Christmas sales.

After all, with the huge competition in offering the best discounts, you must sell two, three, four times as many discounted items to equal normal December sales. No wonder a sporting goods retailer commented “Black Friday crucified Christmas shopping.”

But, it has become a highly anticipated retail event and “love it or hate it, it is very hard to step away from it,” outdoor retail group Trappers found. “The consumer is going to take advantage of deals and spend, so we would prefer to have them spend it in our store.”

A fear expressed by some retailers, who wish to remain anonymous, is that customers buy bargains (which they may not actually need) with their credit cards, only to struggle with the debt for the rest of the year – which reduces their normal buying power.

On the other hand, about a quarter of the industry retailers who participated last year say it had a positive impact as it attracted customers to their stores who would not ordinarily have visited them. Many retailers also stock up on items they would not normally have in store to attract new customers with discounts.

And when it came to calculating the actual impact of Black Friday/Cyber Monday last year, more than a quarter of the respondents to our survey on holiday sales reported an increase in December sales from the previous year … but more than 40%  said their sales were between 0-20% lower than the previous year.

Takealot-Black-Friday

With Black Friday most popular in the 25-34 age group (according to KPMG) and the frenzy driven by social media, it is not unsurprising that Takealot MD Kim Reid says they are preparing for sales worth R90-130-m in the coming week leading up to 24 November and 27 November (Cyber Monday). Certainly, somewhat of an increase from the R1-m the online retailer earned on Black Friday back in 2011. The following year sales tripled, in 2015 turnover was R17-m and last year their Black Friday turnover was R56-m.

Another online retailer, Zando, say that a sandal model they reduced from R200-R70, was sold out within the first hour.

Problem is: South Africans do not have infinite funds. It stands to reason that what they spend at these online stores will be deducted from their by brick n’ mortar spending.

Or are we wrong? In our next newsletter we’ll ask you to tell us about your Black Friday experiences.

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