black friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Quick Look at the Statistics.

In preparation for 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (aka BFCM), let’s first take a look at what’s been happening out there…


Participation in Black Friday has shown a steady year-on-year increase. In 2017, as much as 60% of South Africans were actively purchasing on Black Friday. This percentage increased with 16% in 2019, and 2020 is predicted to be a record year for this annual sale period not only in South Africa but globally too.


In the past five years, interest in BFCM has grown by 117% globally, while South Africa has shown a staggering increase of 9 900%. So, this pretty much went from practically non-existent to being a household concept in just 5 years. I, for one, remember discussing Black Friday with one of my clients back in 2016. They were still contemplating whether or not they should participate – today, it’s a non-negotiable for most companies.


In preparation for the 2019 BFCM period, it was established that as many as 63% of South Africans were aware of Cyber Monday. Of these, 76% were planning to shop on Cyber Monday, of which 65% had previously shopped on Cyber Monday.


The type of items typically purchased on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2018 and 2019 showed an increase of 14-16% in the categories for Food items, Beauty Accessories, and Electronics and Appliances, with the latter usually being the top seller. The Clothing and Footwear category, however, saw a 2% decline in sales mainly due to online purchasing frustrations shoppers experienced. Historically, people opted to rather go to the store to purchase clothing and footwear on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


What Does 2020 Have in Stall for Us?


Well, when comparing 2019’s online shopping trends with that of 2020 thus far, three categories have already shown significant growth:

  1. Consumer Electronics
  2. Home and Garden
  3. Fashion

This growth is mainly due to the restrictions related to COVID-19. I personally expect to see this become a more permanent trend in South Africa, because lockdown has forced in-store shoppers to do more online shopping, and this experience has shown them that it’s actually not as bad as they thought.


Before we can look at 2020 though, we need to consider a statistic that I find quite surprising as it is indicative of either a low market maturity level towards online shopping or the poor execution by e-commerce retailers themselves, which is driving shoppers to brick and mortar stores.

Although we saw great growth in participation in BFCM, most of these shoppers still preferred to do their Black Friday shopping in-store. In 2019, 67% of Black Friday shoppers participated exclusively in in-store shopping, while only 12% of Black Friday shoppers exclusively preferring online shopping. Why? This might be due to 4 in every 10 shoppers experiencing webpage issues that negatively impacted their shopping experience.


Looking at the latest 2020 stats outside of the BFCM environment, we see that 66% of online shoppers experience issues whilst conducting shopping, compared to 56% in 2019. A personal observation here is that this too is because of the COVID-19 lockdown, which forced many businesses to enter the e-commerce market due to the restrictions on their traditional brick and mortar stores.


As a professional in the digital world, I was excited to see SA take this much-needed leap towards a more online-situated world, but it also presented its own issues in terms of these businesses not taking or having the time to execute their new platforms properly. They also did not have the time to gather insights and optimise the online experience for their users like other more experienced online retailers were able to do. In my opinion, this increased the number of online shopping issues, as previously mentioned.


Out of these three main categories, the Home and Garden category saw shoppers experiencing several issues, including:

  1. Forced registration – Shoppers were forced to either register or to log in before they were able to check out. (I completely feel their pain!)
  2. No or slow customer support – Response time of customer support cannot be too slow. Apart from the obvious, these shoppers already felt vulnerable in an impersonal, digital world, and the lack of an immediate response could have rapidly exacerbated their concerns.
  3. Product reviews – Independent product reviews being hard to find. Credibility is so important for an online store and users trust past users’ experiences.

The fact of the matter is that people have been greatly affected by the novel coronavirus and due to this, their purchasing behaviour has been impacted. Currently, 26% of consumers are shopping online with a store or retailer they haven’t shopped at before the lockdown. So, what does this mean for us? Simply put: Brand loyalty has been compromised. Why? Because people are now actively looking for the best prices available.


In support of this statement, Google has reported that 47% of people shopping with a new brand or retailer did so as a result of a more favourable price. Followed by the fact that they could obtain the item faster. I promised myself that I would not focus this article on COVID-19, as I am sure that just like me, all of you have also had enough with this pandemic. But the reality is, unfortunately, that it is highly likely by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday hits, we will still be restricted, and the effects of COVID-19 would not have subsided.


So, who are the big spenders? From past Black Fridays, we see that majority of shoppers are between the ages of 24-36, closely followed by the 37-48 age group. And, big surprise, females make up just over 50% of them.


Lastly, it is important to note, as I think most businesses already know, that Black Friday and Cyber Monday has proven to lead to lower sales figures in December – whether the retailer participated in the BFCM sales or not.


Considering all of the above, you need to ask yourself, if you don’t already have an e-commerce site, why not? And if you do have one, what can you do to make it better?


Contact us at if you need help to prepare for 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

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