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Black Friday falls flat for South African retailers with 10% drop in spending

Discounting levels continue to grow year-on-year, while Pretoria is the only city to see yearly sales increase

Data from leading retail management platform Vend shows that in-store retail spending over the Black Friday shopping period this year dropped by 10% compared to 2017. Sales volumes also decreased by 2%.

This is despite discounting levels growing by 5% this year compared to 2017, and the average discount amount increasing by 3 percentage points. On Black Friday this year the average discount offered by retail stores was 20%.

However, Vend, which powers hundreds of small-to-medium and independent retail stores across Africa, found that Black Friday continues to provide a significant spike in the retail calendar. When looking at the Black Friday shopping period (24th-27th November), spending increased by 20% compared to the previous weeks in October and November.

And, discounting levels spiked by 113% over Black Friday compared to previous weeks.

“While there have been reports that shoppers are still clamouring for Black Friday discounts, our data shows this year has fallen flat,” says Higor Torchia, EMEA Country Manager for Vend.

“Most stores now offer Black Friday deals through until Cyber Monday, both in-store and online. So it could be that consumers are doing more of their Black Friday shopping online, or they’re focussing on the deals from big-box retail stores. But our data shows that smaller, independent stores were also offering amazing discounts over the weekend – particularly fashion, and health and beauty stores, which boosted their discounting levels by around 500 percent. We’d love to see shoppers support local during these big sales events, alongside looking for deals with bigger stores.”

Discounting and sales by vertical over Black Friday period, compared to an average week:

Fashion and apparel 107% sales increase 445% discounting increase
Health and beauty 37% sales increase 630% discounting increase
Sports, hobbies, and toys 37% sales increase 307% discounting increase
Home, lifestyle and gifts 9% sales increase 315% discounting increase

In the major centres sales growth was positive, particularly in Pretoria where sales jumped by 19% compared to previous weeks. In Cape Town sales increased by 13% and Johannesburg retailers saw a 10% increase. Pretoria was the only main city to see year-on-year growth however, with a 20% increase.

Vend’s data also found a big increase in shoppers paying by credit card this year compared to last. This Black Friday, 53% of sales were taken in cash, and 45% were on credit card. Whereas in 2017 this figure was 58% in cash and 36% on credit.