Black Friday not all it’s cracked up to be for little guys

A long line awaits the opening at Checkers at the Mall of Africa on Black Friday, 2017
A long line awaits the opening at Checkers at the Mall of Africa on Black Friday, 2017
Image: Jess Levitt via Twitter

While big retailers and eager shoppers prepare for the Black Friday craze to hit in a little more than a week, some smaller businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay believe the one-day super-sale is not all it is cracked up to be.

Typically an American tradition, Black Friday is getting bigger every year in SA, the vice-president of a new customer acquisition (start-up and small business) for Sage Africa and the Middle East, Viresh Harduth, said.

According to Harduth, Black Friday sales increased by more than 2,500% in 2017.

But, while the big retailers were laughing all the way to the bank, many small businesses were faced with the possibility of losing money on the day because they cannot compete with large retailers, he said.

“That’s not to say they shouldn’t take part, but they need to adopt a strategic approach,” he said.

“Black Friday is not about out-pricing the big guns, but is rather an opportunity to clear stock, reward loyal customers, and gain new ones.”

The owner of Sports World in Newton Park, Derek Botha, agreed with Harduth.

“It’s not a concept that’s designed for small businesses, that’s for sure,” Botha said.

“But we have no choice but to get involved because otherwise we may as well close down our stores.

“But, at the same time, it’s a good time to get rid of old stock.

“The previous years have been busy, but there’s no profit,” Botha said.

“We will nonetheless definitely have amazing specials.”

ACDC Express director Bernard Heritage said the electrical products manufacturer would not have specials only targeted for Black Friday.

“As a smaller retailer and as a fairly new store we have not experienced enough success with it [Black Friday] as yet,” he said.

“We’re running an end-ofyear special already so we’re not going to participate in another Black Friday as we have a vast amount of products already discounted.

“What we find from a smaller retailer’s side is that we don’t get much off spring of it because clients flock to the bigger mass stores which offer a wider variety at prices that we just cannot match.”

Heritage said the store was running quarterly specials.

“We change the products over those quarters.

“So our specials were in the planning stages already three or four months ago.”

Michael Bester, one of the owners of Brian Bands Sports along Cape Road, said the store was also not participating.

“We’ve not participated in any of the Black Fridays and we’re not partaking in this one either.

“We have our three sales in the year which our customers know really well and they’re good sales already, so we don’t see the need to put another sale in the year.

“Bigger retailers buy in more stock at better pricing to be able to offer the discounts that one needs to offer for a Black Friday,” Bester said.

The store already had a 50%-off sale on some products, he said.

Harduth said: “The biggest challenges for small businesses on Black Friday are creating awareness, ensuring their technology is up to the task, and creating pleasant and frictionless customer experiences.

“Get these right and they’ll have customers for life.”

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