South Africa

Wear your masks, keep your distance and sanitise, Mkhize says as shoppers hit Black Friday queues

Wear your masks, keep your distance and sanitise, Mkhize says as shoppers hit Black Friday queues

Long queues and crowds are a common feature of Black Friday as consumers hunt down the best deals — and health minister Zweli Mkhize has cautioned shoppers to be careful to avoid any chance of contracting Covid-19.

Mkhize said consumers should make sure their Black Friday shopping includes sanitising, social distancing and wearing face masks at all times.

National police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili could not immediately be reached to comment on the consequences for those found not to be complying with Covid-19 legislation.

This year, most big retailers came up with creative ways to mark Black Friday while avoiding where possible exposing customers to Covid-19. Some are running month-long promotions while others had their specials available only online.

A Mastercard study has revealed the rapid growth of online shopping, with 68% of South African consumers shopping more online than they did before the pandemic.

The study highlights a surge in spending across various sectors. According to the survey, the majority of South Africans (81%) have shopped online for data and airtime, 56% for clothing, 54% for groceries and 51% for beauty and hair care products since the pandemic started.

The CEO of the South African Savings Institute (Sasi), Gerald Mwandiambira, has, however, warned consumers that they should not overspend on things they don’t need. He said consumers will be bombarded with promotions that they may feel they must have to avoid missing out.

“Remember, Black Friday is just one of the early sales of the festive retail season and bargains don’t always have to be snapped up immediately. There will be other opportunities and impulse buying driven by the bargain frenzy is not the way to go. You could walk away saving money on a few items, but losing more with your maxed-out credit card and store account you don’t need,” he said.

Black Friday doesn’t have to end in arrears and tears. There is opportunity in the madness and Black Friday sales can offer opportunities to stock up essentials in bulk, or major discounts on big-ticket items — if you go in with your eyes open.

Sasi gave the following tips to survive Black Friday:

  • Stay away unless you’ve saved. The Black Friday marketing engine is hard to resist, but remember retailers are scoring too.
  • Plan your spend and budget in advance. Scout out potential deals ahead of time, and don’t go over what you can afford. Know what your family priorities are: a washing machine may be more important than a big-screen TV, for example.
  • Ensure discounts are not misleading. Do your homework and use price comparison sites like Price Check to be sure that you are getting a bargain.
  • Always use credit responsibly. Credit can help you afford big-ticket items you may not otherwise be able to buy, but revolving credit can be a trap and you could end up paying much more. Only spend what you can afford to repay on fixed-term credit.
  • Avoid opening store accounts, as these are high-risk credit. TransUnion research shows a 35% increase in retail instalment accounts opened and a 23% increase in clothing accounts during 2019's Black Friday. Just six months later, more than half of those new accounts were in arrears by one month or more.
  • Be aware that retailers are getting rid of stock they don’t need. You may be getting a bargain on models that are no longer the latest model. New models immediately devalue yours. This year, the specials may not be as expansive as they usually are, and it may take a while to get your products. Many stores may not have stock as there are global logistics backlogs.
  • Spend on what you would normally spend money on. Get discounts on your normal spending activity such as specials ahead of festive gatherings. There is value in supermarkets and clothing stores. For example — think ahead and buy your stationery in November. Look for things you can celebrate and say you spent wisely in Black November.
  • Budget for 2021. There are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to planning — rather budget and prepare for your normal recurrent annual expenses such as school fees.

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