Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Five ways to shop wisely and safely on Black Friday

You need a budget for Black Friday and stay away from using credit because the cost of the credit will cancel out what you save at the till.

There are ways you can shop wisely and safely on Black Friday and this is especially important in a time of various scams and tough economic times, where consumers cannot afford to lose even one cent of their hard-earned income.

“With Black Friday just around the corner, consumers are already making plans to buy a new TV to turn their family rooms into a home cinema, splurge on a new wardrobe with the latest summer fashion, or stock up on groceries and essential items ahead of the festive season,” says Tumelo Ramugondo, head of credit card at Standard Bank.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday in South Africa are set to be the country’s biggest shopping events yet, with major brands and retailers offering impressive discounts in-store and online. During last year’s Black Friday weekend, online purchases by Standard Bank customers increased by almost 19% compared to 2021. In 2021 the year-on-year growth rate was 15%.

There was also a 20% increase in the number of transactions processed over the weekend, which reached a total of 8.6 million.

“In the face of a challenging economic climate, Black Friday is an opportunity for South Africans to effectively use their savings for big purchases they may have been anticipating since the start of the year. Whether it is for essentials or luxury items, this retail event has evolved and matured over time to become an important highpoint in the retail calendar,” Ramugondo says.

However, he says, while we can all get excited about Black Friday it does not mean consumers should throw caution to the wind when it comes to their financial health and safety. Ramugondo gives these five tips to keep in mind during Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

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Draw up a budget and stick to it

The perfect Black Friday experience is one where you come out the other side without your monthly budget looking lopsided. Ideally, your budget for the weekend should be the result of consistent saving and healthy financial habits, ensuring you have a sizable amount to spend on your shopping list.

“Do not worry if you did not buy everything on your list. Many local retailers start their promotions earlier or run entire month-long promotions to entice shoppers, which means you have plenty of time to make hard decisions and work out what purchases matter most.”

Look for the best deals and compare prices

Many retailers will offer the same products at marginally different prices, but when it comes to finance, every little bit counts. That is why shoppers should look for the best deal on products they want to buy and then first compare prices between retailers.

You can also use one of several price-checking websites to help you keep track of the best deals and therefore, there is no need to rush between shops and down different aisles checking the price tag on each item.

Use credit responsibly

Credit is very useful if you want to buy more expensive items during Black Friday sales, or if you do not want to use your savings for a specific item. However, South Africa’s increased interest rates have raised the cost of borrowing and as a result, shoppers must remain aware of their card limits and how much they buy on credit.

One of the best ways to avoid paying interest on the money you spent on your credit card this Black Friday is by taking advantage of the 55-day interest-free period most lenders offer. This means that you will not pay interest on your outstanding balance, provided you pay the closing balance in full within 55 days, Ramugondo says.

ALSO READ: A tough economy won’t stop SA from splurging on Black Friday

Only shop online at trustworthy stores

Online retail is big business in South Africa. In 2022, the sector grew by 35% to reach a total value of R55 billion, with online sales boosted by Black Friday and a shift by consumers’ retail behaviour from physical stores to online stores and Apps.

However, Ramugondo says, as exciting as it is to hunt for the biggest deals during Black Friday, South Africans must exercise caution when shopping online as they can be targets for cybercriminals. According to a TransUnion survey, 41% of local consumers who were aware of being targeted with digital fraud said it came from money or gift card scams, while 25% said it came from phishing attempts.

“Remember, if the deals are too good to be true, they probably are. Always shop at credible and trustworthy online stores and Apps and when registering a profile, use a strong password and never save your bank card details on the website.”

Transact securely

Second to practising vigilance when shopping online is making sure your payment transactions are secure. When you buy using an App, for example, use authentication methods such as biometrics that offer a high level of security.

Another way to transact safely online is to go fully digital using virtual cards, Ramugondo says. Virtual cards are safer than physical bank cards as they cannot be stolen, cloned, or skimmed. They also do not link personal or account data and when activated each one has a unique card number, CCV number and expiry date.

“Virtual cards are a sign of changing times when it comes to banking. South Africans are starting to leverage the full potential of digital technologies to yield a secure and convenient shopping experience that lets them fully enjoy all that Black Friday has to offer,” Ramugondo says.