The Botswana retail sector waited at the altar to be swept off its feet and in walked ‘Black Friday’ down the aisle, giving rise to an encounter that could be seen as a new lease of life to the sector. For the struggling local retail sector an event like Black Friday may later prove to be the saving grace it needed.
Here is why Black Friday may have been the perfect match for the local retail sector. The country’s two leading competing forces within the retail sector, being Choppies and Sefalana, admitted to challenging economic conditions which reduced as a result the foot traffic past their doorways. In fact Sefalana aptly captured the sector’s reality earlier in June when it released its financial results, “The economy as a whole has been somewhat depressed and the level of spending, both by Government and the average consumer on the street has fallen significantly. This in turn has had an impact on consumer confidence and difficult trading conditions for not just us in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (“FMCG”) sector, but also a number of other sectors in the country, where Groups are reporting a drop in earnings.” The retailer registered a profit decline of about 19 percent. Choppies on the other hand despite it maintaining its dominant market share registered a decline in profit of about 29 percent as was seen from financial results released in September. As the leading mass retailers in the country the two provide a gauge of the most recent state of the retail sector which depicts it as one fighting for survival.
Cutting through the Black Friday blockbuster fluff into the crux of why consumers are drawn to it reveals that discounts have been shown by research to have unconscious psychological effects on them. Black Friday is typically characterised as having longer hours of operation in stores, significant discounts, and offering other special deals. The day creates a sense of scarcity regarding goods on promotion which then rouses consumers to launch into the mania of grabbing the deals. Blockbuster promotions have been identified as the main pull factor that sets the Black Friday day apart from other retail sales during the year. This is according to a study titled An Analysis Of Consumer Misbehavior On Black Friday by Briana Milavec. It was conducted in the US where the Black Friday publicity is reported to have originated from, which overtime has extended into other parts of the world as is seen today.
Black Friday came and put the springs beneath the consumers’ feet. A horde of consumers thrust, almost forcibly, past the doorway of Game stores at the Game city mall when the clock hit midnight last week Friday. The plunge into the Game to grab the deals ignited a ramp up of foot traffic which was observed throughout the day. The queue by consumers to the cash registers winded itself up intricately in the store. Down the mall from Game store was Choppies where however the foot traffic paled in comparison. An out of the ordinary foot traffic was also observed in other stores such as Options, CB store, Aldo, Jet and Mr. Price where black Friday deals were promoted.
Foot traffic is to a retail sector what the bible is to a Christian, it fuels the cash register and drives higher sales. The resultant consumer spending is deemed the lifeline of the retail sector and that the sector plunged consumers into the frenzy of Black Friday with ‘blockbuster’ adverts is a no-brainer because a spike in customer traffic only leads to the retailers achieving one thing: a bulge of their purse.