Early statistics released at the weekend have shown a significant slump in in-store Black Friday sales this year.
According to automated clearing house service BankservAfrica, the total in-store card purchases were under 5 million customers, a 30% decline from last year.
Economist Dawie Roodt said: “People have migrated more (to) using online shopping rather than going in-store. This is mainly because they have become accustomed to the convenience, it’s more affordable than going in-store and also people are scared of going to stores because the Covid-19 virus is still with us.”
According to BankservAfrica, online purchases spiked by more than 60% than last year, reaching just under 870 000 sales in total.
“The problem we are seeing, though, is that poor people who do not have access to the internet have to go to the stores. However, if they had access to internet connectivity, more people would have moved online,” said Roodt.
Meshel Muzuva, senior finance and economics lecturer at Mancosa private higher education institution, said many stores realise people are not willing to risk increasing their exposure to the coronavirus.
“South Africa’s e-commerce sector has shown a dramatic upsurge in sales since government lifted the lockdown restrictions on online shopping in May. The pandemic has amplified the shift online in the country. With stores navigating a Covid-19 minefield of hygiene protocols, limitations on customer numbers and social distancing against a backdrop of consumer financial constraints, Black Friday is moving online as a more viable alternative,” said Muzuva.
Bureau for Economic Research (BER) junior economist Tshepo Moloi said retailers have had a tough year: “Business conditions deteriorated across the entire retail sector, given the bleak domestic backdrop, which was further exacerbated by the Covid-19-induced disruptions.
“As a result, retailers have begun reconfiguring their business models for survival and adapting their operations to a poor business environment.”
Meanwhile, along with the slump in purchases being made in stores, there have been reports of non-compliance with Covid-19 curbs.
Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said: “Inspections and monitoring of large gathering places were done across the province and it appears to have paid off.
“We had some isolated incidents of people overcrowding and not wearing masks, mainly in some parts of the city, but the authorities swiftly clamped down and, working with shop owners and managers, managed to address the problem areas.”