Based on early figures, Business Insider has reported an even lower than expected volume of sales this year for Black Friday in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and amidst the economic impact of 248 days of lock-down in South Africa.
Online Sales Increase
Overall, it looks like online sales did experience an increase, with BankServAfrica reporting 60% more online transactions on Black Friday itself this year than last year, but the low base that increase built from still translated into only 870,000 online transactions on the 27th.
This will probably rise further as Black Friday deals are extended, and Cyber Monday deals are taken advantage of, but the increase in online sales, while significant in comparison to last year, was not enough to off-set the fall in physical sales.
In-Person Sales Fall
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the pandemic, in-store purchases for Black Friday were down by 30%, which translated to 2 million fewer in-store transactions.
Malls and other physical retail locations were quiet on Friday, and the lack of foot traffic also meant that people were not being tempted by other offers, when shopping for specific headline items.
South Africa wasn’t the only market to see lower than hoped-for Black Friday sales, declines were noticed globally, with the UK for example showing a 10% decline in total (online and physical) transactions, while the US reported a huge increase in online sales (partly accounted for by the fact that during the pandemic, more people are buying groceries online too), but a 52% drop in physical foot traffic in stores.
Analysts have expressed concern that the drop could be indicative of deeper economic woes to come, although the impact of the pandemic makes it a difficult call to have certainty about.