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Business activity around Harare Central Business District (CBD) was rather usual as of mid-morning this Black Friday, save for a couple of major clothing outlets such as Edgars and Jet stores which ran promotional sales on selected items as the much hyped global event resulted in an anticlimax, 263Chat Business has established.
A snap survey by this publication revealed that most businesses did not offer promotional deals to encourage consumer spending with prices remaining rather stagnant.
As for clothing outlets such as Edgars and Jet Stores, only selected items prices were discounted by margins of between 25 and 50 percent.
Several consumers queued outside Edgars First Street who spoke to this publication as early as 6.30 am said they were eager to find out what items were on promotion once the store opened.
By mid-morning the majority of retail outlets across the city were open and prices remained unchanged.
“We just came out of a long lockdown and we are trying to recover lost business since we did not really operate full scale this year so we cannot afford to slash price because its Black Friday,” said one clothing boutique owner.
Zimbabwe has one of the world’s most informal economies and the chuck of business operators fall within the Small and Medium Enterprises category which was worst hit by the COVID-19 restrictions for the better part of the year as they were deemed non-essential services providers.
Even though, Black Friday usually hurts small independent businesses as they cannot compete with the larger firms due to their higher cost base.
Matters can also be compounded by the fact that Zimbabwe’s economy is already in its worst condition in a decade and business is generally depressed.
While in other countries Black Friday has ceased to be a one day event of great deals for consumers- instead spanning over a week sometimes into a fortnight, Zimbabwean businesses can’t afford this luxury.
In neighboring South Africa for instance, official figures says consumers spent in the region of R2.9 billion on Black Friday alone in 2018- that’s double the takings of an ordinary trading day as consumers were spoiled with numerous discounts.
Ironically, some tech-savvy Zimbabwean consumers ordered various items online in countries with relatively generous Black Friday offerings like South Africa.
“I ordered a wide range of clothing items in one of South Africa’s leading clothing retail stores online. They have been running some cheap promotions since the 25th of November and will end of the 30th. Its far much cheaper this way,” said one, Tawanda Masangwi who spoke to this publication.
Black Friday has become a global shopping phenomenon where businesses offer the lowest prices for the year signaling the beginning of the festive season.
The massive retail event originated in the United States of America around 1940 and was created to signify and celebrate the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It was created to fall on the day after the American federal holiday, Thanksgiving, and therefore falls on the fourth Friday of November every year.