The stroke 0f midnight signals the beginning of the world’s biggest shopping frenzy – Black Friday. Consumers are enticed by slashed prices, and often purchase things they do not actually need.

Black Friday has only become popular in South Africa in recent years, but what do we know about this chaotic day?

What is Black Friday? 

According to American tradition, Black Friday is typically the day that follows Thanksgiving. It also marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.

As Americans usually have the day off after Thanksgiving Day, it allows for free time to do some serious shopping. During this period, stores offer customers discounted prices on their products, and the global average of Black Friday discounts is 50%.

Why was it named “Black Friday”?

The most commonly repeated – but inaccurate – story behind the origins of this day’s name is linked to retailers.

As the story goes, the day after Thanksgiving would be the one to generate enough income for major retailers to operate “in the black”, i.e, earn a profit, after an entire year of operating at a loss – “in the red”.

According to, the name “Black Friday” is linked to financial crisis rather than retailers.

On September 24, 1869, the American gold market crashed.

Two reputedly ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, banded together to buy as much of America’s gold as possible. They did this to monopolise the sale of gold in the country, and planned to push the price up sky high.

On that Friday in September, Gould and Fisk’s plan was revealed, causing the stock market to free-fall and investors ranging from Wall Street barons to farmers to go bankrupt.

Black Friday in South Africa 

Checkers previously claimed to be the very first retailer in South Africa to offer the concept of Black Friday to its customers in 2014.

That said, word of its massive 40% discounts sale urged many more people to visit during the 2015 sale, and Checkers served more than a million customers that year.

Searches for the words “Black Friday” leaped by more than 300% on social media in 2015.

Many customers, however, complained that local sales did not match up to the extreme discounted prices on items in American stores, and thus the day could not rightfully be called “Black Friday”.

In South Africa, the average discount percentage ranges from 50-80% on the day.

How to optimise your Black Friday shopping experience

Plan ahead

Create a list of what you need ahead of time to avoid being distracted by ‘great offers’ that you don’t truly need. Be specific about what you want.

Set a budget

Set yourself a spending limit and leave the credit cards behind to reduce the risk of impulsive shopping.

Do your homework

Research the products you plan to buy well so that you don’t end up purchasing something inferior just because it’s marked at a cheaper price.

Sign up for newsletters and email alerts

Sign up for email alerts, newsletters and follow brands/ stores on social media to receive special alerts and discounts as soon as they come up.

Download the app

Browse faster and receive exclusive Black Friday deals that may only be available on the app.

The early bird catches the worm

On Thursday, November 22, set your clock for midnight so you can get all your shopping done while everyone else is still asleep and beat them to the punch.

Compare prices

Compare prices beforehand to see if you’re actually getting a good deal and which store has the best offer. When booking flights, also check out hotel specials around your travel dates.

Be prepared

If you plan on making EFT payments, check that you have enough funds in your account. If you plan on booking flights, make sure you have your ID and passport numbers on hand. You don’t want to be scrambling around for documents at the last minute.

Collect discount codes

You might be able to add these to the discount price for an even further discount to your purchase. Certain retailers offer vouchers and discounts that are specific to Black Friday only, so make sure you apply the correct codes.

Time it right

Shop online early in the morning and head to the shops later in the evening as some stores discount their products even further later in the day.

Bring a friend

Teamwork is golden so shop with a buddy and split up tasks to work through your list together and faster.

Fuel your mind and body

No one likes cranky shoppers so get a good night’s sleep and hit the shops with a positive mindset. Make sure you have a proper meal before you go shopping and stay hydrated.

Leave the kids at home

You’ll need to focus all your energy on nabbing those deals and staying calm. Having your kids tagging along will be frustrating for you and them.

Ditch the trolley for carrier bags

Don’t even think about maneuvering a trolley around the shops. Be smart and eco-friendly by carrying your items in reusable shopping bags.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.