By now you probably already know what Black Friday is. On the off-chance that you don’t know let me tell you what it is: It is one day of the year when a lot of retailers around the world have the decency to reduce the obscene markup on some of their products by offering discounts to customers.
In civilised and normal countries it marks the beginning of the Christmas (they call it the Holidays in America) shopping season where retailers expect to make most of their sales. Black Friday falls on the fourth Friday of November which is the day after Thanksgiving in some countries.
Today 27 November 2020 is Black Friday
Black Friday with a Twist
Zimbabwean businesses don’t seem to be interested in this marketing phenomena for the most part. This is a departure from last year when a lot of businesses participated in the event. Here is what I have noticed about this year’s Black Friday in Zimbabwe:
- It seems less business are taking part. Some businesses that actively promoted the event last year seem to be silent about it this year.
- Businesses seem to have actually raised prices by as much as 50% this month. For example, the price of bread went up from $60 ZWL to around $74 ZWL. Econet also recently increased the price of their voice bundles this week.
- This is not isolated to this year though, as we get closer to Christmas and civil servants get raises or bonuses, Zimbabwean businesses have always had the tendency to increase their prices where businesses in other countries offer discounts
- Even Multinational entities that are offering Black Friday deals in other countries are not doing the same in Zimbabwe. Take the case of Multichoice who are offering sweet deals in South Africa and leaving Zimbabweans in the cold even though we already pay more for DStv, to begin with
- Prior to Black Friday, few businesses were promoting their products with special focus on Black Friday deals they would be offering.
- Some companies seem to be unaware it’s Black Friday today. These entities are peddling their usual promotions without even mentioning Black Friday at all. Even entities that can be described as woke. Silence from Telecel, NetOne and Econet. Gold Tech has a Musk UP competition where people will win an iTel phone. No word on Black Friday.
- People do not seem to be flocking into town. Nor did I see any crowds in shops. Maybe it’s due to Covid-19 measures but this seems muted.
Also most of the Black Friday on offer this year are rather gimmicky you are getting a meagre discount on a product that is already overpriced. Some unscrupulous businesses are announcing fake reductions too. For example, an item that has always sold for US$10 is being announced as reduced from US$15. What a scam.
The COVID angle makes it all worse
It is a well known fact that Zimbabwean businesses have always put up a half-hearted effort when it comes to Black Friday but that was never really a big deal. Prior to the current pandemic you could always either physically go to say South Africa and take advantage of the deals there or take advantage of online deals.
The past two years for example, I went to Musina during Black Friday. Unlike here, I had to contend with crowds of people in various malls. I still remember two ladies coming close to blows as they wrestled each other for a marked down pair of jeans. You had to wait for hours to get to the till. The surprising thing about the majority of the people in these queues was that they would be speaking to each other in Shona, specifically the Harare Dialect suggesting I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of better deals in another country.
Now that is no longer possible. Both Zimbabwe and her neighbours have their COVID restrictions that make such shopping expeditions impossible. While South Africa has opened its borders, Zimbabwe hasn’t. In any case travelling means you have to get a PCR test which is going for about US$60 at most institutions. That’s an extra expense that will wipe out any savings you might have made. Travelling to Beitbridge is also now much more expensive compared to the pre-COVID era. Prior to the pandemic you paid only U$12 to get to Musina now you need about US$100 including the test plus the requisite bribe to get through.
When it comes to the online angle things are no less gloomier. Buying products is now pretty much impossible as the pandemic has seen the shutdown of most logistical routes. I have always liked shopping on Chinese sites such as Gearbest, Aliexpress and Banggood. Products would then be delivered via the Post Office. Sadly the postal delivery option is no longer available for the bulk of items. In fact many goods can no longer be delivered to Zimbabwe. Either that or one has to pay for courier services. Experience has taught me that is not a mistake I want to make.
Then there is the payment part of the equation when shopping online. True it is now easier to get a prepaid Visa/MasterCard (more on that later) and thanks to the stability of rates compared to last year it’s also easier to get a hold of the USD to preload your card. Sadly banks like FBC have raised their payment fees. It now costs a minimum of US$3 to make a payment so it’s quite feasible that you end up paying more in fees than for the actual service you are buying. Then there is also the Finance Minister and the RBZ with their evil IMT 2% tax who have now entered the fray.
There are still some deals
There are still some deals you can take advantage of this Black Friday:
- You can buy/rent cloud services if you run an online business or just want to tinker. Services don’t require physical delivery so you can always get these.
- BancABC has a swipe for Mahala deal which means you can get discounts when you pay online using their card. To clarify these discounts are on BancABC’s fees not on the prices you are paying.
- Hwindi is offering 50% off on their services today
- Beta Holdings is offering as much as 30% on building materials
- Mutare Manor which offers lodgings has reduced it’s fees by US$80
- Pizza Hut is offering a 25% discount
- Food World, one of the most expensive retailers (I do price surveys in my other job so I know what I am talking about here), is offering people a chance to win something if they shop for goods worth US$50 or more. They do have an online shop but this is very underwhelming if you ask me. No price reductions just some competition.
- Hammer and Tongues want you to take part in auctions at their site simply because it’s Black Friday, no deals just a promise that you might find some item you might want on an auction
- Our colleagues at Pindula are offering discounts to SMEs that are participating in Black Friday and want to advertise on their site.
- Steward Bank has no sweet deals they just want you to be safe online.
- World Remit is offering reduced prices for those sending money to other countries including Zimbabwe.
If you know any deals that our readers my be interested in and I have missed, I will be happy to add them here. Just leave a comment below.
Also remember this coming Monday is Cyber Monday which means possibly a few more deals for you.