Black Friday is still a relatively new concept in South Africa, but it’s surely one that’s here to stay. After all, it gives shopaholics licence to do what they love the most: shop! We’ve jumped on the international bandwagon and some of us may even mark it months ahead on our calendars, ticking off the days in anticipation. If we’re really determined, we may even try and save a bit ahead of the time – but how many of us really plan this far in advance?
When the time arrives, we have faced a barrage of overt and subtle media messages enticing us to spend. Our heads are buzzing from radio and television adverts, and we give in to the temptation to click on the pop-up ads on our devices to prepare our shopping lists in advance – we tell ourselves it’s never wrong to treat ourselves or too early to shop for Christmas, right?
It’s also no coincidence that Black Friday falls on or around payday. In the fog of frenzied spending, we feel confident that we can either pay for our purchases in cash (nothing burns holes in your pockets more than a fresh pay cheque) or we extend our credit knowing that we can pay it off within a few days, interest-free, when our cheques come in. Alternatively, we prematurely dip into that thirteenth cheque or performance bonus that we fool ourselves into believing will pad our bank accounts by the end of December.
Credit cards in hand, we unwittingly fall into the debt trap long before we’ve ticked all the items off our planned shopping list. Advances in technology have allowed us more freedom to shop with minimal effort. Why stand in queues when you can sit comfortably at your desk with a cup of coffee and click, click, click? The “shop ‘til you drop” mantra used to encourage some to exercise restraint simply due to exhaustion, but now the only thing stopping us is an attack of carpal tunnel syndrome – and perhaps a credit limit.
“While we definitely don’t want you to experience FOMO, we also don’t want you to become a victim of buyer’s remorse.”
Once the Black Friday dust has settled and we start receiving our online purchases and bank statements, the guilt sets in – did I really need three pairs of shoes for the price of one? Or that extra TV set because it was half price? And what about those exorbitant, exploitative delivery charges?
5 things to consider before you shop
While we definitely don’t want you to experience FOMO, we also don’t want you to become a victim of buyer’s remorse as so many of us do when impulse buying. To this end, we’ve compiled a few pointers so that you too can share in the spoils, but exercise common sense when it comes to your Rands and cents.
- Do your research before the time. Some stores run it for the whole month, the week or just the day; some only offer specials if you use their online service. This way you can set a budget and make a list of the purchases you’d like to make without any pressure or temptation.
- Don’t take the first offer you see, even if there is a clock ticking on that special. Cross-check competitive agencies to see if you can find the same or a similar product at the same or better price.
- Before checking out your cart (if shopping online), be sure to read all the terms and conditions for each stockist and purchase. These will tell you:
- How long you might have to wait for delivery (it may be longer than usual).
- If there are additional delivery fees.
- If the special only applies to a minimum purchase amount.
- If they will substitute your purchase for another in the case of your chosen item being sold out – is this what you want?
- If your details will be added to any databases you wouldn’t normally subscribe to.
- If you can get a refund for or return an item that doesn’t fit, or if you can exchange it.
- Make sure that your internet connection is safe – don’t use internet cafés or public places with free Wi-Fi, as this can make you vulnerable to viruses and hacking. Also, be sure to sign out of a site when you have completed a transaction to protect your personal and financial information.
- Don’t give in to the temptation to exceed your budget – just don’t! Do you really need that item this minute or could you use your money more wisely, say, for next year’s school fees?
The fact is, we are a cash-strapped society that has been particularly hard hit this year with constant petrol prices hikes and an increase in VAT. Retrenchment is a feared word and most of us have tightened our belts, living pay cheque to pay cheque.
Your unexpected tax refund or possible bonus may leave you with a bulge in your pocket and the urge to splurge this November and December, but think twice and remember that your January 2019 income is – at the very least – 65 days away! Don’t let your Black Friday turn into a Blue Monday.