It's expected to be the busiest Black Friday ever.On Friday morning, possibly even from 12 am, crowds will gather once more in shopping malls to take advantage of Black Friday’s low prices. Malls in the city are preparing for the anticipated influx by beefing up security.Black Friday started in South Africa in 2015 and consumers and retailers were still unsure at that time of what the day was about.The South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) said on Wednesday that in 2016 the promotion was dominated by supermarkets and electronic stores offering up to and over 50% off selected items and the response of consumers was “overwhelming”.In 2017, some 21% of mall tenants, versus 3,2% in 2016, participated in Black Friday.Taleo Retail Advisory’s CEO Sash Padayachee said a recent survey by Black Friday Global indicated that an average South African will spend about R1 654 during Black Friday this year. Customers might, however, be “strategic” in identifying specific products to buy, given their constrained resources, he said.“Advertising on radio, TV, press, billboards and social media is already much more than previous years,” Padayachee said in a statement.Dirk Prinsloo of Urban Studies, which recently did market research on the day for the SACSC, said the expectation was that this will be the busiest Black Friday ever. Some of the larger regional centres expect shopper crowds of more than 130 000 people — this is twice the capacity of Ellis Park stadium, said Prinsloo. Most of the bigger regional centres expect 70 000 to 80 000 shoppers on Friday, although Liberty Midlands Mall was unable to provide estimates of how many additional people they expect on Friday.Noel Otto from Power Fashion in Durban said Black Friday will impact on their December trade. “On the back of Black Friday, we must assume that a portion of Christmas’ expenditure will be shared into the tail of November, by virtue of consumers hunting down the best value from their year-end buck. “This will impact ‘Christmas numbers’ only in the sense that shopper behaviour will disrupt historic patterns, but through budget planning, this won’t mean a slump in turnover for the quarter,” he said. “In fact, Black Friday is an exciting opportunity on our calendar to invite new customers,” Otto added.e-Commerce will also again get a major boost on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. FNB said it processed an average of over 800 000 card transactions per hour last year, which peaked at 1,5 million card transactions between 4 pm and 5 pm through last year’s Black Friday.FNB Retail CEO Raj Makanjee said in a statement: “The transaction volumes firmly indicated that Black Friday has become one of the important days for South African consumers.” Many see this as an opportunity to stretch their budgets. “Consumers who have set aside a budget will be in a better position, and we encourage those who need to use credit to do so responsibly. It’s vital for consumers to consider there’s still a long festive season ahead ... Reserve some funds for unforeseen emergencies,” said Makanjee.FNB saw a 120% increase in card payment volumes last Black Friday compared to a typical Friday. The spike was driven by a 250% increase in purchases from local online retailers versus the 80% spend increase at physical retailers. “Interestingly, we only saw a 60% increase for international sites like Amazon versus a typical Friday.”Neil Roets, CEO of debt counselling company Debt Rescue, said consumers owe their creditors in excess of R1,7 trillion, with most of them three months or more in arrears with repayments.“Consumers should think long and hard before plunging even deeper into debt by splurging on luxury goods they most likely don’t need.“For the past several years we have seen the impact Black Friday and Christmas shopping sprees have had on consumers when they approached us to try and get them out from under the financial mess that reckless spending has caused,” he said.In anticipation of the influx of shoppers, most shopping malls in the city said they will increase security. Edendale Mall centre manager Phakamani Khumalo said they have hired extra guards to be on duty on Friday and over the festive season.The centre managers of the Cascades Lifestyle Centre and Hayfields Mall confirmed they will have more guards on duty. In addition, Melissa Singh of the Hayfields Mall said they have also employed more cleaners just for Friday.