Take a Black Friday reality check

Written by: Wendy Jasson Da Costa

Economists and debt counsellors have warned that people should spend only what they can afford and after budgeting for the items on their wish lists, while those in the digital industry have cautioned online shoppers to ensure that their passwords are protected.

Credit cards are ready and weeks of bargain hunting will kick in to gear next week when shoppers aim to capitalise on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

However, economists and debt counsellors have warned that people should spend only what they can afford after budgeting for the items on their wish lists, while those in the digital industry have cautioned online shoppers to ensure that their passwords are protected.

Economist Dawie Roodt said that generally, prices were lower, but he wouldn’t be surprised if there were instances where businesses increased their prices on Black Friday.

“It makes business sense for prices to be lower because businesses buy huge volumes of merchandise at substantially lower prices which they can then offer to their customers.”

Roodt said that like many other consumers, he loved gadgets and it was okay to buy them as long as you had budgeted for the expenditure.

“People spend money that they haven’t planned for and have not budgeted for, and then, eventually, when the bills start coming, they have to find the money somewhere,” said Roodt.

He said it was easy to get caught up in the euphoria of Black Friday but warned that while the financial outlook for the next month or two seemed positive, 2024 would come with its own set of challenges.

“The election, which is disruptive and can lead to volatility, means we won’t see strong economic growth next year and for years to come. The damage caused to the economy was absolutely immense and is not going to be fixed in a short period,” Roodt said.

Annaline van der Poel, from Debt Rescue, one of the country’s largest debt counselling companies, urged consumers to know their prices before getting swept up in the frenzy.

She said that before Covid, people used Black Friday to buy luxury goods like TVs and fridges, but since Covid, retailers had put essential items on sale and people were using Black Friday specials to stock up on dishwashing soap, groceries and toilet paper.

“As consumers, we know what the going rate is for an item, we know what sugar costs, we know what dishwashing liquid costs, so if we are savvy and we keep our wits about us, we’ll know the difference between a real special and what is just inflated then deflated so it looks like more of a special than it actually is.”

Van der Poel said that of the 27 million credit active consumers in the country, just under 40% were behind on at least one of their accounts by three months or more.

She said statistics showed that about 70% of new credit applications were declined because of a combination of people not able to afford the credit or because of bad credit records.

“People are over indebted, they are seriously struggling to differentiate between where their priorities must be; if I’m putting food on the table, quite literally, or if I’m paying my debt because many of them are having to turn to credit to buy food,” she said.

For those who preferred to shop online and avoid long queues, strong passwords were key to ensuring digital security, said Carey van Vlaanderen, the CEO of IT security software company, ESET South Africa.

She said distinct passwords for each online account which combined letters, numbers and special characters would help keep you safe.

“Imagine a scenario where your phone, which acts as a gateway to your digital life, falls into the wrong hands. This stolen password can open a Pandora’s box of issues, such as unauthorised purchases made by a hacker exploiting your saved payment details on your online shopping apps,” Van Vlaanderen said.

Meanwhile, luxury cookware brand Le Creuset has warned shoppers to be on the lookout for counterfeit goods or fake offers.

The brand which launched its 50% “Colourful Friday” sale on Friday said there had been an increase in counterfeit activity and that it was taking proactive steps to shut down and eradicate sites that marketed fake products.

“Counterfeits are sold in South Africa often via marketplace sites on social media. There have also been incidents of ecommerce sites offering Le Creuset at unrealistic prices and then not delivering after payment,” said Le Creuset’s director of marketing, Jamie Paine.

Click here to read the full article: https://www.iol.co.za/ios/news/take-a-black-friday-reality-check-d739d187-b2bd-481a-9070-9aa3926bfac1

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