Black Friday during the pandemic
It’s the Black Friday month and retailers have to revise their approach to ensure safety protocols for customers in the time of covid-19.
Black Friday 2020 is on Friday 27 November, but most retail stores have started with early deals to keep up after being hit by COVID-19.
South African biggest stores were pummelled by the pandemic and will look to recoup some of the loss they suffered during the lockdown, but all that will happen if they think differently. The reality is that the restriction placed by the retail sector could impact the sales, reputation and customer safety.
Online shopping will be on high alert as an alternative to try to avoid in-store shopping for people but this will not be feasible because a lot of people in the country do not have access to online shopping.
The GeoPoll survey further revealed that 67% of South African consumers did their Black Friday shopping in-store only. A much smaller group of shoppers, 21%, indicated shopping both in-store and online, and only 11% of shoppers shopped online.
While it can be expected that online shopping has gained traction beyond 11% over the past few months of isolation, quarantine and social distancing, the vast majority of South African consumers simply don’t have the means yet to shop online. Retail stores will face a vast number of people for in-store shopping and this will see stores facing a problem in ensuring the safety measures, social distancing and mask-wearing.
Shifting away from traditional “door buster” shopping models in favour of a less chaotic and more socially distanced approach is not going to be a solution in the country because of less number of people who have access to online shopping.
Few biggest retail stores in the country have started with the Black Friday deals early as a solution to shopping during the pandemic.
Pick and Pay, Makro and Game extended Black Friday beyond a single day to avoid overcrowding, starting from 2-29 November and will spread deals during this period.
Massmart corporate affairs and executive Brian Leroni stressed out that running the traditional shopping style of Black Friday will be difficult in this time of COVID-19.
“Black Friday traditionally sees high concentrations of shoppers in retail stores and across the country, which can create a challenging shopping environment. There, we have decided to reimagine the way we do Black Friday in 2020,” said Leroni.
The initiation of the lockdown affected many people in the country, jobs and businesses were affected. In addition to the risks posed by the virus, consumers are struggling financially after a long, tough year.
Sandile Zulu who runs a clothing business advised of ways that can help retailers in getting customers through this difficult time.
“Retailers should use the time leading up to Black Friday to find ways of streamlining or automating in-store credit applications so that people are not caught in queues on the day. By providing self-service options, encouraging early credit applications and making them easier to do in-store, online or through the contact centre, retailers can improve customer access to credit and boost sales,” said Zulu.
The pandemic has changed the normal way of doing things and with the number of covid-19 cases resurging again, it’s no doubt that a high number of people on Black Friday will be affected because they will be all out there shopping, which is why retailers need to maintain a high safety protocol for people.