Presented by Teljoy

Black Friday: The South African Narrative

Black Friday. We’ve all seen footage of people lining up outside retail stores in America, stampeding into shops and even getting into physical altercations over that last heavily-discounted television.

But what is Black Friday exactly and how has it been adopted by the South African market?

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday originated in the United States in the 1960s when retailers saw a rise in consumers shopping the day after Thanksgiving, typically a holiday for most Americans. The term “Black Friday” originally had a negative connotation and was a term that the police used to refer to the congestion of shoppers on this day.

Later retailers changed the narrative of this term to indicate that it was a day they went from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’, in other words, when they would be profitable due to the influx of shoppers. The popularity of Black Friday rose in the 1970s and 1980s and saw retailers competing against each other with bigger and better specials. In 2005 ‘Cyber Monday’ was born to profit off a spike in online sales the Monday following Thanksgiving.

Black Friday: The South African Edition

According to an article by Businesstech, Black Friday was introduced to South Africa in 2014, with Checkers claiming to be responsible for bringing the concept to the country. Since then, many retailers have adopted the ethos of Black Friday as a way to increase profits and incentivise consumers to spend.

Like America, there has been a trend which has seen Black Friday be limited to a single day, to being extended across the whole of November, coining the term ‘Black November’. It is seen as the start of holiday shopping and is often used as a way for retailers to keep advertising to consumers past November into December and beyond.

There was a dip in Black Friday sales over the course of the pandemic in 2020, but it seemed to recover in 2021 and seems to be something that will remain part of the South African retail landscape for the foreseeable future.

However, with the current economic situation in South Africa, Black Friday (or Black November) is not necessarily having the expected effect and cash-strapped consumers are rather looking for specials on essential items like groceries and toiletries, over bigger items like electronics and appliances.

“Consumers have gotten savvy around holding tight on big-ticket item purchases until November, when prices drop,” says CEO of Teljoy, Jonathan Hurvitz, “however the discount often doesn’t translate into the kind of savings that the buyer hopes for and with the cost of living rising, it often isn’t practical to purchase expensive, non-essential items, even when discounted”.

An Alternative to Black Friday

Rather than waiting until the month of November and hoping for discounts on the items they want and need, consumers could look at alternatives which will help them to work wisely with their budgets.

“With the subscription, or rent-to-own model, consumers don’t have to wait till Black Friday to get big-ticket items at a great price,” continues Hurvitz.

“For a few hundreds of rands a month, you’re able to get anything from a TV, fridge, washing machine or dishwasher, to a games console, bed or laptop, with benefits included that far outweigh that of a once-off purchase, at any time of the year.”

Such benefits include free delivery and installation, the option to upgrade, downgrade or cancel, free maintenance and repairs for the life of the subscription, TV licences included on all TVs and risk cover built into the monthly cost.

“Many South Africans are cancelling their home contents insurance, or choosing to forgo it altogether, as it is seen as a ‘grudge purchase’” says Hurvitz, “but at Teljoy, we include risk cover on all of our products which protects our customers and saves them the cost and hassle of having to get insurance on that new big screen TV or washing machine.”

Staying ‘in the black’ past Black Friday and Beyond

Although South African retailers have adopted the idea of Black Friday, the economy and consumer needs and spending habits are very different to that of America.

“While Teljoy does participate in Black November, with discounts across our website for the month, we believe that South Africans deserve access to what they need, whenever they need it, whether in November or during any other month,” states Hurvitz.

“Savings can definitely be found on Black Friday, however we can’t always wait until November to get that new washing machine or fridge and forking out a lump sum of cash or whacking it on a credit card isn’t always in the best interest of ourselves or our budgets.”

Working smartly with your money can be as simple as changing your shopping habits, switching brands, going out less or looking at subscription or rent-to-own as an alternative to purchase. It’s about being conscious of spending throughout the year and freeing up budget for those unexpected expenses that tend to crop up (like the next petrol price increase or egg shortage).

Whether or not you’re a supporter of the Black Friday phenomenon, it has certainly risen in popularity since it was adopted by the South African market. However, whether it truly works in the South African context is a question that remains relatively unanswered.

About Teljoy

Teljoy is South Africa’s leading home appliance and electronics subscription service. For over 54years, Teljoy has been providing consumers with access to big-name brands through an affordable and flexible month-to-month subscription that comes with a host of benefits built in. This helps Teljoy’s customers to owe less and have more, freeing up valuable budget to do more of what they love.

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Black Friday: The South African Narrative