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Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. It usually kickstarts the festive-season-spending with consumers making large purchases and retailers making large profits in one day. Things took a different turn this year with the pandemic. In-store sales took a hard knock as customers preferred staying home and shopping online rather than physically visiting the stores. Others could not participate due to economic reasons as retrenchments affected a lot of people this year.
The regular queuing outside brick-and-mortar stores from midnight to early morning hours was much less in 2020 compared to previous years. Even though retailers assured customers that they were going to follow all COVID-19 rules and regulations according to lockdown restrictions, shoppers still did not budge. This uncertainty led to lower in-store sales even though retailers had month-long Black Friday deals.
Looking at online conversations using Brandwatch Consumer Research, the volume of conversation was not as much this year compared to last year. In 2019, the conversation had more mentions than 2020 even though it only gained momentum on the day of the event and dropped dismally the day after, for both events.
2020 has put a lot of things into perspective and forced retailers to stumble under pressure and publicly address issues that they had never put too much focus on. Retailers will have to take steps to bridge the gap between online and offline consumers by finding new ways of communicating with them in a way that will resonate with both of them to avoid future shortcomings.
The key takeaway from Black Friday 2020 is that South African customers were financially stretched this year due to the pandemic that led to a change in their spending behaviour. This led to the economic reality that hit home and forced consumers to think twice before spending their money.