With Christmas decorations already out in stores and carols playing on the radio, it’s clear that retailers are gearing up for what is typically their busiest time, and usually the most profitable.
Before we get to the festive season spending madness, however, we have to first navigate an American tradition that South Africans have taken on board: Black Friday.
Black Friday is the informal name given to the Friday following Thanksgiving in the United States, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it falls on 27 November. It is also typically followed by what is called Cyber Monday.
“This year we expect most trade to be conducted online because of social distancing requirements. In fact, banks in South Africa have seen an increase in the number of transactions moving to the virtual realm,” says Bryan Habana, Head of Business Development at Paymenow.
“When consumers are online more often, as we all are now, it’s easy to get lured into special offers served up via Facebook, adverts on news websites, Twitter, and pretty much everywhere you look,” adds Deon Nobrega, Paymenow MD.
Special offers are really not all that special if you end up buying something that you really don’t need and can’t really afford. Often, these offers are just another way to get into debt.
This Black Friday, there are several ways to shop smart, take advantage of special deals that will really help you out, and avoid debt.
1. Making a list
Even though retailers will try and pull you in with countdown clocks, or limited offers, don’t fall for it. Decide what it is you need. Make a list. Set a budget. Browse around online and peruse the pamphlets in your local newspaper. All the special offers will be there for you to see. There will likely be last minute deals, so you need to decide if you will buy when you find a good deal within your budget, or hang on a little longer for a possible fire sale.
2. Budget, budget, budget
Sure, a 7kg machine washing machine may be of more use than a 5kg one, but if it’s going to cost more than what you are prepared to spend, then don’t buy it. You can survive with a smaller capacity washing machine, but debt will plague you for years afterwards.
3. Buy Now!
Don’t be swept away by “Buy Now!” pressure. Retailers will tell you there is limited stock, and there may well be, or they could just be trying to pull in customers. The same applies to countdown clocks, indicating that a special will only be available for the next few hours. Unless the item is on your list, and within your budget, move right along.
4. Are you really saving?
In the run up to and the day of Black Friday you will finitely be presented with specials that you generally won’t see during the year. Christmas specials are another example of cut-price spending. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to blow a month’s salary on things just because the price is amazing. If you are spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need – you’re not saving, you’re spending.
5. Feel free to change your mind
Apart from stores’ return policies, which give consumers the opportunity to take back something they don’t want, the Consumer Protection Act is also here to protect you. Under this law, all products have an implied six-month warranty, so if it breaks in that time period, you get to take it back, demand a refund, a repair, or a replacement. The outlet may want to test the product, and that is their prerogative. Likewise, if the product sold doesn’t do what was advertised, you can send it right back.
6. It’s not just about goods
Although the bulk of the buzz around Black Friday is about physical goods – from groceries to smart TVs – there may well be offers from service providers that you can take advantage of, such as insurance sign up bonuses, which could see you saving throughout the rest of the year. Now that will really help your budget!
7. #StaySafe online
We’re all currently focused on staying safe in the physical world, wearing masks, sanitising and social distancing, but don’t forget to stay safe online. Shop at reputable outlets, read product and store reviews, read the fine print and never give out your PIN. Make certain that the payment system is secure (look out for a little padlock or an “s” on the end of the http) and remember, if something looks too good to be true – it probably is.
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