Black Friday is the new precursor imprinting a trend into Festive Season Shopping. Over the years, this recent sales tactic has grown in leaps and bounds with more retailers and shopping centres jumping on the bandwagon to offer South African consumers bang for their buck while creating an exciting environment to shop in. 

Lebogang Mokubela, founder of the Lemok Group said that Black Friday was one of the many ways SA retail can adhere to in order to make shopping centres ‘exciting’ again. “Black Friday in South Africa really started to gain momentum in 2015. Even then, retailers were unsure of the motives behind the sale that has now expanded from America, where it originated, to more than 50 major countries world-wide. Is it to gain foot-traffic, is it to get rid of dead stock? Black Friday is more of a marketing strategy than sales figures in my opinion. Even so, SA retail needs such campaigns in order to ignite excite in consumers. It’s a way to create exclusivity and yes, it is a chance to get rid of old stock to make space for new items,” he said.

Black Friday originally an American retail promotion that takes place on the last Friday of November after the American Thanks Giving holiday originated in the 1950s. Many may have a picture of crowds of people waiting with bated breath for stores to open so they can rush in to purchase their must have items at exceptionally discounted prices, with quarrels that may arise between shoppers for last items on shelves. In South Africa, consumers who were still new to the promotion supported many retailers in 2015 Black Friday but 2016 saw growing crowds across shopping centres throughout the country as retailers increased their offering or took part in the promotion for the first time. 

Lebogang added that despite growing interest in Black Friday, 2017 saw a dip in sales. “Black Friday marketing has been exceptional with millions of rands being invested to draw crowds to their offerings, however, after researching a number of malls in SA, we noticed a slight dip in sales figures in 2017,” he said. Lebogang further added that big retailers and brands need to also focus on the growing township market. Over the past few years of Black Friday in SA, township markets, I feel, were excluded from the massive savings and offerings. This needs to change as we see such rapid growth in the township markets. I encourage big brands to explore the diversity of the township markets and sales promotions like Black Friday will be see more impressive numbers than 2017. Also worth noting, Black Friday in America offers consumers up to 90 per cent off selected items and while this sounds extreme, retailers still reap huge profits. The day after Black Friday in America, shops look absolutely empty. In saying this, we need to offer similar savings for consumers,” he said.

Taking a look at shopping centres across the country with a combined GLA of approximately 23.4 million m², an average of 3.2% of tenants participated in Black Friday in 2016 and an average of 21% of tenants participated in Black Friday in 2017 an increase of 17.8 % year on year. Small regional shopping centres which are between 25 000m² to 50 000m² indicated a growth average of 31% year on year when comparing 2016 tenant participants to 2017.

In 2017 the Black Friday promotion was dominated by supermarkets and electronic store sales that offered customers deals up to and over 50% off selected instore items. The response to the sales was over whelming for many shopping centres with over 71% of the respondent shopping centres reporting that they had the highest influx of footfall year on year with an average increase of up to 13 % in the month of November. The survey illustrated a fashion and apparel offering component that came through both in 2016 and in 2017. Approximately 33% of tenants in regional and super regional shopping centres participated in Black Friday sales in 2017 vs only 4.4% of tenant participants in 2016 indicating a growing trend across all retail categories.

Lebogang said that promotions like the Black Friday movement makes retail exciting and creates a dynamic opportunity regarding competition and sales. “More retailers are joining the Black Friday sales promotion year on year. Category offerings are not just limited to food and technology as a clear contribution of fashion, jewelry and accessories and home and décor tenants are also participants in the sales promotion. Regional Shopping centres are offering flat rates on parking and even free parking on the day. Black Friday is the new ‘festive season’, so centres need to place more focus on this and budget to draw people,” he said.

Where to look out for Black Friday Deals:

  • With 67% of Shopping centres indicating that they advertised their Black Friday Promotions on their website and Facebook pages a great move would be to like all your favourite shopping centres on their social media pages.
  • Some of your favourite stores took the conservative approach and only advertised in Store and in centre, keep a look out for great deals on your way to your must have items that you have been eyeing the whole year with 48% advertising contributing to instore and in centre communication.
  • Radio and TV promotion advertising will of course be a fantastic tool for sale information.

Lebogang concluded by saying that Black Friday in SA may have taken a dip in 2017 but he expects this to change this year. “I predict an improvement in last year’s Black Friday sales figures. Retailers I have come into contact with have expressed their enthusiasm to get more involved this year. In saying this I hope to see more being done in the township markets as this to me, is an often over-looked one in terms of campaigns like this,” he said.

For more information, please contact Lebogang Mokubela via email: or visit




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