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How to be a smart shopper on Black Friday

Black Friday is next week, and if it seems to become a bigger deal in South Africa every year, that’s because it does.

Black Friday Survival

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Take the country’s biggest online retailer, Takealot.

The company imported the Black Friday concept in 2011 - the first South African retailer to do so - and that year, their sales amounted to R1 million. 

The following year that trebled to R3 million and by 2015 - consumer spend on Black Friday was R17 million. Last year it was up to a staggering R56 million. This year, Takealot founder and CEO Kim Reid predicts that their takings will be anything between R90 million and R130 million.

Yep, call it R100 million - from R1 million six years ago.

And it’s not just the one day anymore - while the Friday remains the biggest spend fest, predictably retailers are stretching it out, referring to is as the Black Friday “period”, or Black Friday week, or even Black Friday month!

Buying online on Black Friday 

In 2015, Absa reported that card spend on that Black Friday increased by 81% compared to the average day throughout the year. So this year - you can imagine the spike.

Black Friday is a particularly big day for online retailers because huge numbers of consumers make their first foray into online shopping on Black Friday. 

Maybe because they can do so in their pyjamas at a minute past midnight on the day.

According to Zando’s Grant Brown - Zando being SA’s largest online fashion retailer - 30% of those who shopped on Zando last Black Friday were new customers.

READ: 21 ways to become a clued-up consumer

Interestingly, most first timers opt for the COD payment method, because they feel safest doing it that way, but by their third or fourth purchase, they switch to credit card or EFT.

This Black Friday Takealot’s Kim Reid says 15 000 products will be discounted, most being less 60% off the normal price tag, and some prices as much as 70% and 80% off.

It actually kicks off on Monday the 20th with app-only exclusive deals, going through to bonanza day on the 24th, through the weekend, followed by Cyber Monday and Takealot Tuesday.

Zando’s Black Friday “period” specials also kick off early next week. Shoes are the most popular purchase among its mainly women customers - last Black Friday they sold 500 pairs of a pair of black sandals in an hour - that’s when stock ran out. They’d been discounted from R199 to R69.

Takealot founder, Kim Reid ready for Black Friday
BRING IT ON: Takealot’s founder and CEO Kim Reid in the company’s massive Jo’burg warehouse.

Shopping smart 

The people who get the most out of Black Friday are the ones that have a strategy. They know long in advance what they want to buy, and they know what it items usually sells for. And whether they’re shopping on line or in a store, they ignore all the hype, don’t allow themselves to be distracted - by, say, massively discounted shoes they spot while browsing.

And if you know what something usually sells for, you won’t fall for an overstated discount. And here's a perfect example of an advertised “saving” being calculated by a retailer in a way consumers probably wouldn’t.

Maruice Dozetos’ spotted a Clicks advert for a Philips rechargeable shaver. It’s price of R489 was marked as “30% off”, which he called misleading, because he’d seen the identical shaver advertised on their web site for R559 with no mention of that being a promotional price.

“So, for a “30% saving“ that price should be R392 instead of R489,” he told me. “Or, the advert should be “13% saving” of R70 (from R559 to R489).

READ: Crunch time: Tough economic times sees consumer cut-back

I asked Clicks to comment.

The product’s original price was R699, the company said, and that’s what they used to calculate that 30% saving.

But here's how that price for that shaver fluctuated - in the same retail outlet/ 

It’s original price was R699
Then last Christmas it sold for R559,
Then from late May to early June its price was R439 on an online promotion,
In June it reverted to R699
Then back to R559 on a July sale
Down to R444 in October for another online sale
Then R489 for a few days in late October/early November, before going back to R559.

When advertising pricing, the saving is always calculated off the original price of the product, I was told. Not the most recent price.

I think it’s fair to say that most consumers would assume that the saving would be calculated on the product’s most recent price. 
As Maurice worked out: “For 17 days out of 370 days, the price was R699 and they use that as their baseline price." 

Wendy's tips

Do your homework so you can do your own sums and discover what the savings actually are.

Be on the lookout for scam sites looking to get hold of your credit card details. Make sure web pages are secure (https://) when transacting online, and that reputable payment services are being used. 

Normal Consumer Protection Act protections apply if something you’ve bought becomes defective within six months of purchase - regardless of how discounted it was on a sale.

But remember that retailers are not obliged to take back non-defective goods at all so check the terms and conditions - some don’t accept returns of non-defective products bought on Black Friday.

But if your bargain breaks in the next six months you can take it back for your choice of a refund, replacement or repair. Provided you have proof of purchase, as always.

And if you buy something with a credit card and you don’t get it, apply to your bank for chargeback. If you can prove your loss, your bank will make contact with the merchant’s bank, and get your money back.

For previous Consumerwatch shows, scroll through the channel below.

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