Black Friday in South Africa: The New Retail Peak You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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Black Friday in South Africa: The New Retail Peak You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Black Friday, once considered a supplementary shopping event to the bustling December holiday season, has metamorphosed into a retail juggernaut in South Africa. For years, retailers and consumers alike have viewed December as the zenith of annual shopping, a time when consumer spending reaches its peak. However, recent data is compellingly shifting this narrative. Black Friday is not merely an add-on to the festive shopping calendar anymore; it’s a pivotal retail milestone that holds the potential to significantly impact your year-end revenue.

According to First National Bank (FNB), customers made purchases worth over R3 billion on Black Friday alone. Standard Bank reported a 19% increase in customer transactions compared to the previous year, and Nedbank saw a staggering 88% year-on-year increase in online transactions. These aren’t just numbers; they’re a testament to a seismic shift in consumer behaviour and spending patterns.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the data and trends that underscore why Black Friday has evolved from being an optional retail event to an indispensable part of the retail calendar in South Africa. We’ll explore the economic indicators, consumer behaviours, and technological advancements that are driving this shift. By the end of this guide, you’ll understand why Black Friday is not just a day for discounts but a critical barometer for the retail sector’s health and a significant contributor to its annual revenue.

So, if you’re still considering Black Friday as a ‘nice-to-have’ in your retail strategy, it’s time to recalibrate your approach. The data speaks for itself, and the message is clear: Black Friday is no longer a sideshow; it’s the main event.

Historical context

Black Friday may be a relatively new entrant in the South African retail landscape, having made its debut less than a decade ago, but its impact has been nothing short of transformative. The concept, borrowed from American retail culture, was initially met with a degree of scepticism. Many questioned whether a shopping event, so deeply rooted in American Thanksgiving traditions, would find resonance in the South African market. However, the event has not only gained acceptance but has also seen an exponential rise in popularity, becoming a cornerstone of the retail calendar.

In 2019, Black Friday sales in South Africa reached an astonishing ZAR 6 billion, marking a 36% increase from the previous year. This wasn’t a one-off spike but part of a consistent growth trajectory that has been observed year-on-year. According to a report by Stats SA, retail trade sales increased by 2.6% in November 2019 compared to November 2018, largely driven by Black Friday sales. This growth has been so significant that it has begun to influence retail trends and consumer behaviour well beyond the confines of the event itself.

The data from various banks also corroborates this trend. For instance, Standard Bank reported a 19% increase in customer transactions during Black Friday compared to the previous year. Nedbank saw an 88% year-on-year increase in online transactions, highlighting not just the growth in sales but also the shift towards online shopping.

Moreover, the event has evolved to encompass more than just consumer electronics and fashion, its traditional strongholds. Sectors like groceries, home improvement, and even automotive have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon, offering steep discounts and special promotions.

The meteoric rise of Black Friday in South Africa is not just a testament to effective marketing or the allure of deep discounts; it reflects a broader shift in consumer behaviour and expectations. The event has become so pivotal that it now serves as a bellwether for the retail industry, offering valuable insights into consumer spending patterns, preferences, and even economic sentiment.

Black Friday has transitioned from being an experimental retail concept to a powerful economic event that retailers can ill afford to ignore. Its consistent growth trajectory and broadening appeal across various sectors make it a critical milestone in South Africa’s retail calendar.

The Shift in Consumer Behaviour 

Traditionally, the December holiday season has been the zenith of retail shopping in South Africa. However, recent data indicates a seismic shift in consumer behaviour. According to a 2023 report, Black Friday sales have begun to outpace December holiday sales, with consumers spending up to 30% more during the Black Friday period. This shift is not merely a trend but a fundamental change in how consumers approach year-end shopping, making Black Friday an event that retailers can no longer afford to underestimate.

Online vs In-Store Shopping 

The digital age has brought about another shift: the move from in-store to online shopping. While in-store shopping still holds a certain allure, online sales during Black Friday have seen a remarkable uptick. In 2022, online sales accounted for 40% of all Black Friday transactions, a figure that is expected to rise. Retailers must adapt to this changing landscape by enhancing their online platforms to provide a seamless shopping experience.

Popular Categories and Consumer Preferences 

Electronics, fashion, and home appliances have consistently topped the list of most sought-after categories during Black Friday. Interestingly, there has also been a surge in experiential purchases like travel deals and dining vouchers. Understanding these consumer preferences is crucial for retailers to stock up on the right inventory and offer targeted promotions.

The Importance of POS and Connectivity

The surge in Black Friday shopping brings its own set of challenges, particularly in terms of Point of Sale (POS) systems and connectivity. Transaction volumes can increase tenfold, putting immense pressure on existing infrastructures. This is where robust connectivity solutions come into play. Companies like Huge offer state-of-the-art connectivity solutions that ensure seamless transactions and real-time data analytics, providing retailers with a much-needed competitive edge.


The data speaks for itself: Black Friday is no longer an optional retail event but a cornerstone of the South African retail calendar. As we’ve seen, consumer behaviour is shifting, and the retail landscape is evolving rapidly. Retailers must adapt to these changes by investing in robust POS and connectivity solutions, especially as we approach the next Black Friday.

Call to Action

Don’t underestimate the power of Black Friday. Prepare your business for the surge in demand by investing in reliable connectivity solutions and effective inventory management systems. The time to act is now. Let’s connect and make sure you are ready and connected for your Black Friday influx. 


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