Black Friday stampedes

BLACK Friday stampedes plunged several retail outlets into chaos, with some shoppers sustaining,Picture: TNA

BLACK Friday stampedes plunged several retail outlets into chaos, with some shoppers sustaining injuries in the mad rush for bargains and other desperate shoppers resorting to physical fights. Checkers outlets in Sandton and Midrand’s Mall of Africa were the scene of skirmishes.

Shoppers from all income groups lined up as early as Thursday evening to be first in line as some shops opened at midnight. While the day is great for retailers, even if they don’t make much money on loss leaders, others warned consumers to be wary of such inducements.

A Momentum/Unisa Index for the third quarter shows that South African consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for food and other bills while trying to save some money and repay debt.

All the major big retailers such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Checkers, Boxer, Game, Woolworths and others were happy with the huge support shown by customers.

They expected Friday sales to boost their numbers for the final quarter of the year, as happened last year. It was also an opportunity for them to clear out old stock and get a feeling for customer trends in the run up to Christmas. It is still early for accurate figures but it’s clear billions of rands were splashed out at the weekend.

In 2016, Black Friday boosted November sales, rising by a robust 3.8% year on year and it was the largest monthly increase in retail activity since 2012. Some observers said there would be a sharp and welcome boost this month across all retail segments. “We’ve done a huge amount of work to identify exactly what our customers want on Black Friday,” John Bradshaw, head of marketing at Pick n Pay, said.

However, Neil Roets, CEO of debt counselling company Debt Rescue, said while consumers used the day to save money, it was foolish to overspend on unnecessary items. Roets said more than 9 million consumers were three months behind in repaying their debts.

“We are seeing more people applying for debt review now. It’s showing us that the situation is getting worse. But, at the same time, it shows that people know where to go if they are in need of help with their finances,” Roets said.