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Online retailers enjoy record Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 04 Dec 2019
The most expensive single card Black Friday transaction amounted to R650 000.
The most expensive single card Black Friday transaction amounted to R650 000.

Millions of discount-obsessed local shoppers embraced the 2019 Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period, with buying patterns showing online retailers enjoyed record-breaking sales figures.

While retailers ran earlier-than-usual promotions during the biggest shopping period of the year, this did not steal the thunder from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with financial services firms reporting up to 35% increase in e-commerce activity.

South African payment service provider DPO PayGate says its Black Friday overall transaction volumes spiked by 400%, compared to an average trading day, with e-commerce sales up by 35%.

Absa witnessed a 65% increase in the value of online transactions for Black Friday, with its payments acceptance systems processing 11.4 million overall transactions on the day.

Standard Bank’s total card transactions for Black Friday 2019 increased by 13% compared to the same period last year, with the most expensive single card transaction amounting to R650 000.

The number of transactions processed through First National Bank’s Merchant Acquiring Systems between midnight and 14h00 on Friday, was 7.4 million compared to 5.6 million in 2018, representing a 40% increase in transaction volumes compared to the same period last year.

DPO South Africa says the numbers and trends during Black Friday 2019 point to a more mature market and an industry that was better prepared.

“It is clear that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here to stay. South African shoppers have embraced the event and have planned well in advance this year. The buying patterns also show us that we are dealing with a more mature consumer,” says Peter Harvey, MD of the DPO Group Southern Africa, which comprises payments solutions PayGate, PayFast and SiD Secure EFT.

Black Friday will see significant growth in the rest of Africa, come 2020, predicts Harvey.

Online comfort

According to retail tracker Black Friday Global, interest in the Black Friday phenomenon in SA over the last five years had jumped by 9 900%, compared to global growth of 117% during the same period, as domestic retailers innovated their trading strategies over the years.

Tshipi Alexander, head of card issuing at everyday banking at Absa Group, told ITWeb theaverage number of card transactions for Black Friday was 109 per second, increasing from 80 in 2018.

“While many retailers this year held their Black Friday discount activities far earlier to avoid the congestion, Absa saw an increase in transactional behaviour even before Black Friday. However, there was a sharp increase on the actual day. With online spend in particular showing a 65% increase in value and a significant increase in volume, this reflects that more and more local consumers are becoming far more comfortable with shopping online.”

Additional factors which contributed to an increased number of e-commerce shoppers was brick and mortar stores holding online campaigns to drive consumers to online channels and financial services firms providing access to educational and safety information, he notes.

“In addition, online retailers have tried to make the shopping experience seamless and more convenient for shoppers, eliminating many complexities,” says Alexander.

Overall, Absa’s turnover per second peaked at R1.4 million through payment acceptance systems, with shopping peaking at around16:00.

In the US, a record $9.2 billion was spent online on Cyber Monday, surpassing Black Friday, which recorded $7.4 billion in online sales, according to an Adobe report.

Tshipi Alexander, head of card issuing at everyday banking, Absa.
Tshipi Alexander, head of card issuing at everyday banking, Absa.

Shopping for value

Mpho Sadiki, executive of card payments and transactional acceptance at Nedbank, says the bank saw double-digit growth in e-commerce transactions.

“On Black Friday, Nedbank received a peak of 632 transactions per second and overall growth of 27% in transaction volumes, which is testament to the stability of our systems and processes.

“Online (card-not-present) sales grew by 113%, while card transactions saw a 43% growth rate compared to 2018. The average spends for Nedbank clients was R802 per transaction.”

According to Nedbank and Standard Bank, the biggest spenders on the day were customers aged between 24 and 36, followed by 36- to 48-year-old customers. These two categories of customers accounted for more than half the spending on Black Friday.

Ethel Nyembe, Standard Bank's head of card issuing in SA, explains: “While most consumers have been forced to tighten their belts due to the tough economic environment, they are still showing spending resilience when they see value.

“Standard Bank customers did most of their shopping on Black Friday, while still seeing value in the days before and after 29 November, with increased spending evident in this time. There has been an increase in volume and value spent over this time when compared to the corresponding period last year. Online purchases have also seen very healthy volume increases.”

Standard Bank’s female customers spent slightly more than its male customers this year, following a similar trend when compared to the comparative period and global trends.

FNB saw a 40% increase in transaction volumes on Friday, compared to the same period last year.

Thokozani Dlamini, CEO of FNB Merchant Services, says: “Card transactions processed through the bank’s Merchant Acquiring Systems peaked at an average of 306 transactions per second.

“Online merchants like Takealot, Zando and eBucks Shop were amongst the top online retailers where FNB customers bought discounted goods and services.”