In 2018, South Africans spent about R2.8 billion during Black Friday, the annual one-day shopping frenzy which sees retailers slashing prices to all-time lows to entice consumers to mop aisles with their wallets.

“One of the main messages we drive among consumers is encouraging them to shop within their means and sticking to a game plan to avoid buying things they don’t need only to regret later. Black Friday is one of the few days when consumers have the opportunity to score big discounts on various household items, however caution should be practiced to avoid buying things for the sake of buying because of FOMO “Fear of Missing Out” or relying too much on credit which could lead to over-indebtedness,” says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual. 

According to Manyike, consumers would be better placed if they created a budget, sticking to a shopping list and shopping around for Black Friday because it’s only through a well thought out game plan, supported by strict budgeting, that they can make the most of Black Friday Discounts. 

Discipline is very important during Black Friday shopping. Just because the crowd is doing a scrum over a particular item doesn’t mean you should also join in.

Consumers must remain mindful of how they spend, whether there are large discounts or not, we should always remember that there is life after Black Friday if you consider that there are other priorities such as servicing debts and taking care of children’s long term needs such as education. There’s a risk of being financially vulnerable over the long-term including the usual January financial pressures. It’s important to reconsider how one intends to spend during Black Friday and to delay the gratification of unplanned purchases.

John Manyike has several suggestions that can help cushion consumers against overspending during Black Friday:

Buy only the things you need, not what you want

    • Consumers can easily get carried away when everything seems cheap or heavily discounted. Being able to differentiate between needs and wants is an important part of financial management, while consumers may score huge discounts the important question to ask remains: Do I really need this item? By practicing this type of self-control, consumers can remain focused and spend money only on items that will add value and won’t poke holes in their pockets unnecessarily.

Plan your Black Friday purchases

    • Black Friday has gained momentum over the last few years in South Africa and retailers have begun advertising their specials well in advance. As part of planning for the day, consumers should compare prices from different retailers and make their purchase decisions earlier on. This approach increases chances of saving money and stretching the budget where possible. Also important is creating a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases.

 Monitor your transaction activity

    • While shopping, it’s important for consumers to monitor their transaction activity to ensure they remain within budget. If a certain amount is set aside for Black Friday, it’s important to stick to that budget to avoid overspending.

Want it, save for it

  • Black Friday is a one-day event that happens once a year, this means you can save for whatever item you hope to buy. This would especially apply to big ticket items such as TVs or furniture. The benefit of saving for Black Friday purchases is not only the discounts but the peace of mind of knowing that your finances remain intact. If you don’t have a budget, don’t tempt yourself with window shopping on Black Friday.

Consider shopping online

    • To avoid the hassle of having to stand on long queues, wrestling with other enthusiastic, muscled shoppers, and to protect your soft ankles from the pain of colliding with solid iron trolleys there’s the convenient option of shopping online. Online shopping can be done from the comfort of your home, and may in fact result in savings because you won’t have to drive around and pay for parking. When you shop online the items can be delivered directly to your home at a specific cost. Consumers do, however, have to practice caution when shopping online to protect their personal information. Be careful of scammers and make sure you shop on authentic online sites. The last thing you want is for your personal details to be compromised and you fall victim to online scammers while chasing Black Friday specials. 

“South Africa is said to be one of the markets where Black Friday has seen the sharpest growth, while this is good for the country in general, I think it’s important for consumers to plan ahead and in that way they can take full advantage of the day and not have to worry about any regrets or financial setbacks. The trick is in the planning,” concludes Manyike.