South Africans seek out Black Friday essentials as crunch continues

Black Friday signage is displayed at Game store in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 24, 2023. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

South Africans seek out Black Friday essentials as the crunch continues. On Friday, bargain shoppers hauling carts full of groceries, including cooking oil, milk cartons, multipacks of diapers, and home goods like pillows and detergent, filled Johannesburg’s Mall of Africa.

Amid a crisis caused by rising interest rates and sharp increases in food, transportation, and healthcare costs, South Africans deliberately spend their money on necessities in light of this year’s Black Friday discounts.

“This year, there is no funding for electronics. Trevor Abrahams, 42, told Reuters he was in line to pay for his groceries at Shoprite’s Checkers store in the mall. “We’re just working for food now.”

Black Friday has quickly transformed from a unique American occasion to a significant driver of sales in South Africa, where consumers anticipate spending about 7 billion rand ($381 million) more this year than in 2022 (26.6 billion rand). This is according to Bureau of Market Research (BMR) data.

But in contrast to the years before the COVID-19 outbreak, there were no lines outside of businesses, and the morning crowds in Cape Town and Johannesburg’s malls were minimal.

Retailers ranging from Walmart-owned (WMT.N) general merchandiser Massmart to rivals Pick n Pay (PIKJ.J) and Woolworths (WHLJ.J) to supermarket behemoth Shoprite (SHPJ.J) and the fashion and homeware group TFG (TFGJ.J) told Reuters that customers will probably prioritize necessities over luxury while also looking for more significant savings on clothing and electronics.

Ahead of the school holidays, Gertrude Tladi,57, and her coworker Granny Mongalo,42, snatched up pillows, juice, and cereal, among other grocery goods, from Walmart-owned general merchandise outlet Game, located on the other side of the Mall of Africa.

“We have been saving every month for Black Friday since February,” stated Mongalo, a mining business employee.

“We’re especially buying groceries because our children are closing (school) and will be sitting at home, eating everything in the fridge,” Mongalo stated.

A few customers purchased music systems and big-screen televisions from the same business. Shops selling clothing were also bustling as parents purchased items for their children to wear on vacation.


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