Leading up to Black Friday 2021, there was widespread speculation about what South African retailers should expect from what is traditionally America’s biggest shopping day, but which has now been widely adopted locally.
There were two schools of thought. The first being that the still subdued economic growth, coupled with household incomes that are still under pressure, would mean that consumers wouldn’t’ have the money to spend on luxury items that typically make up Black Friday sales. The second was that, after almost two years of limited consumption due to Covid19 and the lockdowns, South Africans were ready to shop up a storm.
According to Mpho Sadiki, Executive: Card and Payments Acceptance at Nedbank, early turnover data, gathered by Nedbank from merchants using its card and ecommerce network, points to the likelihood that those predicting increased shopper activity were right.
“Turnover volumes over the weekend across our card and ecommerce merchant network rose by a very healthy 25% this year, when compared to Black Friday weekend in 2020,” Sadiki says, “and while card and online transactions don’t tell the full Black Friday buying picture, the growth seen across these channels is likely a barometer of overall purchasing activity for the period, including cash transactions.”
Sadiki is hesitant to call the significant year-on-year turnover figures a ‘trend’, given that South Africa was entering a third Covid-19 wave when Black Friday happened in 2020, which may have resulted in muted sales figures that year. However, based on a similar increase in sales turnover of 17% (on Nedbank channels) from 2019 Back Friday figures, he is cautiously optimistic about the story this year’s figures tell regarding the recovery of consumer income levels.
“This year’s Black Friday turnover figures on Nedbank’s card and ecommerce platforms are up 17% on what we saw over the Black Friday weekend in 2019,” he explains, “and given that Covid-19 wasn’t a factor in terms of those 2019 figures, you could be forgiven for being hopeful that this year’s figures point to a reasonable recovery on the fortunes of SA’s consumers.”
Sadiki also says that there is one aspect of Black Friday activity that can definitively be called a trend based on the available data, and that is the continued growth in dominance of digital as a preferred way to shop and pay amongst South Africans.
He points to the 45% year-on-year growth in e-commerce across Nedbank’s payment channels in 2021 as evidence that SA consumers have become very comfortable with online purchasing.
“While we saw clear evidence of this preference for digital transactions during last year’s Black Friday period, with total digital turnover via Nedbank-processed payments increasing by more than 50%, we couldn’t be sure at the time that this rise wasn’t driven by people’s fear of venturing out in public,” Sadiki says, “but the further 45% year-on-year increase in e-commerce take up this year certainly confirms that steadily rising numbers of South Africans now prefer to shop online.”