Africans Embrace Black Friday, Online Retailers Want A Piece. Is This Cultural Colonialism?

Africans Embrace Black Friday, Online Retailers Want A Piece. Is This Cultural Colonialism?

Retailers from Cairo to Cape Town have embraced Black Friday as a moneymaker, cashing in on the U.S. day-after-Thanksgiving shopping tradition with store owners heavily discounting merchandise, and eager shoppers making a run on the goods.

African brick-and-mortar venues as well as online stores are promoting sales across the continent on and around Nov. 25, and they’re doing it more enthusiastically than last year.

Closely associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday is also catching on in Africa. It’s a marketing term for the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The term was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online.

Social media momentum suggests that some of South Africa’s top retailers got good returns from past marketing strategies for Black Friday, according to André Steenekamp, CEO of online media agency 25AM, News 24 reported.

In South Africa, there were over 18,000 mentions of Black Friday tracked on social media platforms on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27, 2015. This compares to around 6,000 mentions of Black Friday in 2014 on social media in South Africa.

Originally started in the U.S. as a day of promotional sales after Thanksgiving, Black Friday marks the day when retailers move from the red to the black, into profitable territory. It also kicks off the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Most major retailers open for longer hours and offer special discounted prices on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November.

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In the U.S. people camp out in freezing weather to be near the front door of major retailers so they can get the goods before stores run out of product.

In Africa, not everyone is a Black Friday fan. Arthur Goldstuck is willing to look critically at the shopping promotion, according to an IT Web report.

“Black Friday in South Africa is an attempt to cash in on the hype surrounding the day in the U.S.,” said Goldstuck, who is managing director at tech research firm World Wide Worx. “It is a classic example of self-inflicted cultural colonialism, except that here the motive is unashamedly commercial. That, in turn, means it represents blatant exploitation of the consumer at its worst.”

Here’s a sample of what African retailers are doing in the name of Black Friday, according to Africa.com:

Egypt’s online store Edfa3ly.com is offering special Black Friday coupons to registered members for discounted goods, shipping and delivery costs. Members can shop other stores such as Amazon and eBay through the site.

Kenya’s online mall Kilimall has already started Black Friday deals, offering up to 70 percent off some products. The sale ends Nov. 25.

Nigeria’s No. 1 online retailer is giving up to 70 percent off on all its websites.

Checkers, one of South Africa’s largest retail stores, plans to offer up to 50 percent off on everyday products on Nov. 25 to celebrate Black Friday.

Massive adoption in South Africa

South Africa has seen a massive adoption of North American retail trends, said trend analyst Dion Chang, founder of South African company Flux Trends, in an IT Web report. “It is tested, it works and is already embedded in the minds of South Africans.”

However, Goldstuck wants shoppers to be aware of what retailers are really doing in the name of Black Friday:

“In many cases, Black Friday promotions are merely relabeled versions of existing promotions, daily discounts and your standard, everyday, thinly disguised attempt to get rid of old stock,” Goldstuck warned.

South Africans are becoming more comfortable with shopping online and want to escape the madness that often defines shopping malls this time of year, IT Web reported.

“As consumers become more comfortable with the online environment, payment mechanisms become more streamlined, cost-effective and convenient, and online becomes a normal component of the shopping experience,” Goldstuck said.

Online retailers will see increased traffic in proportion to their marketing efforts, Goldstuck said.

Sales are expected both in-store and online across Africa, said Anton van Heerden, vice president of software provider Sage.

“The large online e-commerce shops and the major retail chains in many parts of the continent will be splashing out with big promotions and marketing campaigns to get consumers to part with their cash.”