“Don’t do it!” South African’s were warned not to splurge on Black Friday by Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue. He went on to say, “South African consumers collectively owe their creditors in excess of R1.7-trillion with most of them three months or more in arrears with their repayments.” So, did we heed the call to be prudent or did we splash out and take advantage of the (absolutely everywhere) Black Friday 2018 deals?

The Black Friday “consumer festival” has been headline news for weeks. From beauty salons to banks, from nappies to baobab seeds – there have been 50+ shades of Black Friday deals on offer. Then there were the jokes, “Eskom is working round the clock to bring you a Black Friday”, “Consumerism has a religious day called Black Friday,” Jarod Kintz and “I want Black Friday to be televised. Just like the Hunger Games,” Jacky Horn.

“Our website inadvertently disclosed your email address or name and email address due to a technical error.” Amazon Email 21 November, 2018

Globally, things for Amazon got off to a rocky start as the e-commerce giant suffered a data breach affecting their US and UK customers. It’s critical for anyone shopping online to update and vary their passwords, as Richard Walters, CTO from CensorNet says, “People still use predictable passwords, and thanks to previous high-profile breaches many people’s passwords are also readily available on the dark web. For cyber-criminals, it then just becomes an exercise in joining the dots.”

But that didn’t stop Black Friday scoring big in the US for retailers. They racked up around $6.22 billion in online sales, up 23.6% from 2017 and set a new record, according to Adobe Analytics, who monitor the transactions for 80 out of the top 100 US companies on the internet.

“Black Friday was responsible for around R1.36 billion in extra sales in November 2017 – just in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.” Nielsen

The sales figures from South African retailers are still coming in, but this is what we know for sure. Game Stores promised “phenomenal specials” in every merchandise category and opened 90 of its 145 stores at midnight. This resulted in unnerving scenes in Empangeni and further afield in Namibia, but reportedly “organised chaos” elsewhere, with 3000 queuing outside Canal Walk shopping Centre in Century City.

Game’s marketing strategy was to “leak” specials, using comedian and Influencer Nicholas Goliath to spread the word. Not quite on the scale of Mariah Carey launching Alibaba’s “Singles Day” 2018 (they sold $30.7 billion of merchandise) but the Influencer trend is one to watch.

“The payroll procedure for most companies is to pay their employees on the last working day before the 25th of the month.” Ethel Nyembe, Head of Card Issuing, Standard Bank

Guy Hayward, CEO of Massmart (which owns Game, Builders, DionWired, Makro and Jumbo) expressed some concern about this year’s salary payment date, explaining many South Africans “Only have money for about three to five days of the month when they get paid”. This saw retailers extend their Black Friday sales period, most notably TakeAlot.


As CMO of TakeAlot, Julie-Anne Walsh, says “Customers who can’t shop before payday can take advantage of great deals once their salary comes through,” so they are expecting a second  increase of purchasing as salaries are paid, running their specials until 27 November. But their results have already been impressive with reports that their Black Friday sales alone hit the R87-million figure by 08:30, more than the total sales generated by Takealot on Black Friday 2017, seeing  R11,5 million worth of transactions in the first hour of sales.

But TakeAlot wasn’t without hiccups. Shoppers reported difficultiesof getting online (shades of 2017) and the company admitted to problems processing credit card orders. More damaging were the social media complaints saying sale items were more expensive than before. The brand did quick damage control, saying, “Because the most recent selling price is often already discounted, the Blue Dot price can sometimes appear that is hasn’t been discounted.”

“Black Friday is more of a marketing strategy than sales figures in my opinion.” Lebogang Mokubela, Founder of the Lemok Group

The pharmaceutical giant Dis-Chem focused on 300 discounted “everyday necessities” such as   washing powder, deodorant, moisturiser, according to Business Insider with a few of its more expensive products on sale – like the Fitbit Versa Aluminium for R2,900 – R1,100 off from the normal R4,000 price.  Clicks ran specials on everything from hairdryers to cameras, with regular email reminders to customers updating them on every rand saveable.


We’ve yet to hear how Zando fared over Black Friday weekend, but with up to 90% off across categories on its site (as some brands in the US do) including Adidas and Puma, the results are sure to be impressive. Other marketing strategies which stood out was Amazon’s “give to the friend who’s had a sh*tty year”. This gift-giving angle was also echoed by the idea of “bring a buddy”, making a Black Friday purchase or offer appear less self-serving.

According to Black-Friday.Global, South Africa had a 9,900% increase in interest for Black Friday deals in 2017 and these are the products most popular: Clothes, electronics, shoes, cosmetics and perfumes and home appliances.  The statistics in for 2018 suggest further increases in sales. With the marketing hype, the online news and the deals themselves, Black Friday has exploded into a month-long media, retail and online consumer frenzy.

Eben Esterhuizen, General Manager, OnShelf Pharma

Note to the Editor:

OnShelf Pharma’s foundation is built by an FMCG specialist and has a culture of tenacity with a smart solution oriented approach. The business has achieved phenomenal growth to become the preferred healthcare sales agency in the healthcare sector.