By Zuko Komisa
The 24th of this month will see yet another day Black Friday weekend, perhaps one of the most exciting days for conspicuous consumption in South Africa. A quick look on the internet for videos of previous year’s Black Fridays when this phenomenon occurs, and you are instantly flooded with videos of riots over toilet paper or of consumers rising early to beat the long queues. Something that seems a scene reminiscent of the end of the world. Consumers unleashed, ready to spend their last penny.
The popularity of this frenzy originated from the US, with its roots being traced back to periods of slavery where plantation owners would assemble to purchase slaves on a special Friday. Later the term was used to describe post Thanksgiving shopping, where retailers would go in the black or “make a profit”.
It has to-date morfed into one of the peak spending weekends in the retail enviroment. In South Africa, the trend has seen steady growth over the past several years with more and more players jumping on the band-wagon. The craze has become the perfect time to drop prices for retailers, with shopping malls and online shopping services all gearing up for a big spending weekend in the consumer space.
However, the growing interest to acquire luxury goods and services to show off economic power remains a huge factor that drives consumers to overspend, especially for the purpose of attaining and maintaining a perceived social status. With the state of the economy in South Africa right now, we should instead be looking for ways to tighten our belts. Being smart about how you navigate this potentially costly spending weekend will allow you to do just that.
A few hints on how to spend your money on Black Friday
- Avoid buying toys and computers. Contrary to popular belief, the best times to shop for these is at the end of December and beginning of January. (after the Christmas rush when retail prices tend to sore)
- Have a budget and compare prices way in advance, the last thing you need is spending money and thinking you are saving but you were simply swayed by the spirit of Black Friday
- Buy gift cards. They usually also get slashed down during this period and can be used at a later stage for what you really want
- Spend money on things you really need. Maybe you don’t REALLY need another washing machine, plasma or toaster. Find deals that work for you and will make sense in the long run
- Don’t be destracted. Figure out what you want, go to the shops with a purpose and not to buy for sale’s sake. You will thank yourself for it later.