Black Friday 'saved' SA economy in November - but load shedding could reverse the gains

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Retail sales over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period most likely "saved" the South African economy in November, according to the latest BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) released on Wednesday.

It seems that almost all the BETI increases experienced in November were for these two promotional days.

On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a total of 5.2 million card transactions were recorded.

More significantly, according to the BETI report, there was 55% growth in online sales for Black Friday and 36.4% for Cyber Monday.

"While on one level these show the change in behaviour of South African shoppers to online, for the BETI these reveal the growing impact of these days on transactional volumes," says Mike Schüssler, chief economist at Economists dotcoza.

According to the report, the number of transactions recorded "may not be the upturn South Africa wanted, but at least there are some positive indications - although small - that the SA economy will have a positive fourth quarter".

There was, however, less good news, too - with the report noting that "with load shedding implemented in December, this may be short-lived."

The BETI report also cautions that the SA economy is still "not firing on all cylinders".

Supply chain under pressure

According to the BETI report, it seems that, with more retailers joining the movement of Black Friday, the average value of transactions declined again (even when not accounting for inflation). The report says this shows that the whole supply chain was put under pressure to produce bargains for retailers who then, in turn, passed on their savings to consumers.

The BETI shows the real value of transactions grew by 0.3% between November and October and, on a quarterly basis, the growth experienced was 0.2%, according to Shergeran Naidoo, head of stakeholder relations at BankservAfrica. On an annual basis, the BETI grew by 0.3%.
 
The number of real-time clearing transactions increased to over 3 million for the first time, showing, according to Naidoo, that this new method of paying between bank accounts is fast gaining acceptance.

The actual number of transactions, as captured by the BETI, increased by 7.6%, while the value of transactions grew by 5.6%. According to the BETI report, these indicate that "South Africans shopped up a storm on Black Friday after months of savings".

"[...]Black Friday is now also an established date in South Africa; the marginal increase in the overall real value of the transactions shows that a generally implemented retail promotion can be good for the whole economy," states the BETI report.

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