Black Friday brings moral dilemma for South African shoppers

DURING a year in which the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly turned everyone’s lives upside down, economic difficulties and months of lockdown have meant the opportunities presented by this year’s Black Friday shopping event may seem more irresistible than ever.
Gig technology company M4Jam surveyed more than 2,700 South Africans to find out how they felt about the upcoming shopping bonanza, with some surprising trends emerging from the results.
Of the people around the country who responded, 56% were female, 89% were aged 18 to 34 and almost a third (31%) were earning no regular income - illustrating the difficult 2020 has posed for many South Africans.
Of those taking the survey 61% said they planned to shop Black Friday, even though 20% of people who said yes were earning no monthly income. Those who planned to shop were mostly in the 18-24 age bracket.
“It goes to show that young people especially are feeling the financial pinch this year, so they feel they can make the most of Black Friday where they might score deals which can compensate for months of hardship; 68% of respondents said Black Friday offers the lowest prices all year,” says M4Jam CEO Georgie Midgley.
A full 39% of those who said yes to shopping Black Friday this year already have a list of items they would like to buy, but the game has changed in 2020. As with many other aspects of life since the onset of Covid-19, Black Friday will need to be more digitalised to work for everyone.
“A quarter of respondents said they still prefer to visit brick and mortar outlets to shop, while 43% said they intend to shop less at actual stores where contact risk may be high, and 33% now say they will shop online exclusively. This represents quite a shift from previous years where respondents to the same survey preferred to visit actual stores to see and touch what they were buying.
“In fact, 56% of respondents who will shop this year are worried that social distancing rules will not be adequately enforced or observed at retail outlets on Black Friday,” says Midgley.
Unsurprisingly, 57% of those intending to shop online were going to use their mobile phones to do so. 59% disagreed that shopping in person was worth the risk to their health. “That 41% of Black Friday shoppers still consider physical shopping worth the risk is worrying, with those aged 25 to 34 most keen on taking their chances,” Midgley adds.
A total of 68% of respondents said the pandemic had a negative impact on them financially, and of those who were financially affected more than half (54%) had made the prudent decision to skip Black Friday this year. Of those who had not lost their jobs or been impacted financially, 91% planned to shop on November 27.
“The effect of Covid-19 is clear in the survey results; 37% of those who want to shop this year said they have a reduced budget compared with last year, 35% said that budget will be significantly less and 9% said it will be the same as last year.
“Just 7% of respondents have more money to spend than they did at this time last year,” Midgley says.

Finally, 23% of respondents had not yet decided how much they would spend this Black Friday, while only 16% had more than R2,000 to play with. At the top of shopping lists were clothing (21%), groceries (17%) and electronics (14%). Last year, the leading priorities remained similar, with clothing (65%), groceries (50%) and electronics (44%) highest on shopping lists.