Despite the cost of living crisis impacting South Africans this year, Black Friday sales are expected to remain buoyant as consumers take advantage of the deals on offer.

“Last year, BankservAfrica logged a total of 1.2 million transactions worth over R1 billion on 3D-Secure, BankservAfrica’s online card authentication service alone, representing a 42% year-on-year growth,” says Martin Grunewald, chief customer officer at BankservAfrica. “Based on the annual growth observed, we’re expecting to see another good year.”

Increasing financial stress brought on by the difficult economic conditions has curbed consumer spending. Many are dealing with interest rate increases of a further 125bp since Black Friday 2022, with current levels at the highest level since 2009. The current petrol price, higher than that in November 2022, has also added pressure.

“These have been claiming a bigger portion of household budgets if compared to a year earlier,” says independent economist Elize Kruger.

On the upside, consumer inflation moderated notably during the past 12 months, from 7,4% in November 2022 to the latest available figure of 5.4% in September 2023, alleviating the erosion of consumers’ purchasing power somewhat. Average salaries, measured by the monthly BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index, have increased by 5,6% y/y in nominal terms in Q3.

“What is clear, is that consumers have become more price sensitive given the ongoing pressures on disposable income and that Black Friday will most probably be used as an opportunity to stock up on well-priced goods,” says Kruger.

One of the trends emerging since the inception of the Black Friday phenomenon in South Africa is that of retail sales growth moderating during the traditionally strong spending month of December in favour of pre-emptive sales in November.

Following a brief reprieve in this trend in 2020 and 2021, and given the distortion created by the Covid-19 pandemic, this shopping trend resumed in 2022. This is most likely to continue in 2023 as consumers spend earlier to capitalise on the bargains offered on Black Friday, ends Kruger.