Black Friday sales, where shoppers enjoy discounts of up to 80% on products, are no longer attractive to customers due to paltry discounts and inflationary increases.
Every November, on the first Friday after Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States, retail stores reduce prices on many of their products in order to attract greater footfall of shoppers. This culture of deep discounts on the price of goods is what is now known as Black Friday, considered the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. Black Friday sales typically extend throughout the weekend until Monday, known as Cyber Monday. Shoppers everywhere are keeping an eye out for tempting Black Friday deals from their favorite brands and outlets.
But this year, in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and technologically advanced city, all that Black Friday fever seems to have disappeared.
Low participation in Black Friday
On Cyber Monday, in the Opebi branch of the Spar chain of stores, less than 20 cars entered the store premises to make purchases. Banners in stores announced that Spar would be offering Black Friday deals of up to 40% until November 30. But the small number of customers wandering the aisles, in no rush to grab cheap items from the shelves, seemed either oblivious to this. or just didn’t care.
At the Ikeja branch of ShopRite, another retail chain, the situation was no different. At least four customers told TechCabal that the discounts offered at the store were too low for them to care. As the purchasing power of Nigerians weakened as a result of rapidly rising inflation last year, discounts on goods have little effect in conserving citizens’ spending.
“The purchasing power of Nigerians has been significantly eroded due to the soaring prices of almost everything. People are now forced to prioritize their spending and avoid what they don’t need,” financial analyst Samuel Oyekanmi told TechCabal.
Nigerians have had a difficult start to 2023. The first quarter started with a liquidity crisis that overwhelmed the financial sector and a further reduction in household spending. Since October 2023, inflation has increased each month consecutively to reach a An 18-year high of 27.33%. Food inflation has also increased to 31.5%, forcing several Nigerians to opt for social protection programs to survive. The majority of spending was reserved only for necessities such as food and housing under the latest reforms by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has paid lip service to rising inflation, refuse to hold pricing meetings to slow him down, thus complicating the situation.
These policy reforms have recently impacted the purchasing habits of Nigerians.
Shoppers told TechCabal that there was no need to act frantically on discounts that could not exceed ₦5,000 ($6.30) less than the full price.
“Black Friday is an illusion for us,” Frank Obogai, a middle-aged man shopping with his friend at ShopRite Ikeja, told TechCabal. “There is no difference between shopping today and shopping a few days after ShopRite’s deals expire. What is the difference between ₦5,000 ($6.30) or ₦2,000 ($2.52)?
Obong*, an online shopper, told me he bought shoes and groceries on Jumia last year for his wedding, at discounted prices. This year, “things were tight,” he said.
Black Friday Sales were introduced into Nigeria in 2014 by the e-commerce platform, Jumia. Other e-commerce platforms followed later. However, adoption is low among platform customers. Adobe Analytics reported that Black Friday generated $9.8 billion in online sales in the United States, up from 7.5% the year before.
The CEO of a Nigerian e-commerce platform, who spoke to TechCabal on condition of anonymity, said inflationary pressures and low purchasing power have affected the e-commerce sector in the country. “Things are falling apart for everyone. Furthermore, the country has fundamental, structural and skills issues that will not change overnight.”
No more Black Friday discounts
An Instagram seller who sells hair extensions and declined to be named said she had no plans to score any exclusive Black Friday deals. “But I can still give a discount on my daily purchases,” she added.
Although businesses in other parts of the world use Black Friday deals to maximize their profits over a weekend, Oyekanmi, the financial analyst, told TechCabal that shoppers do not believe that businesses in Nigeria are offering the discounts, as buyers claim. “Companies aim to make profits and would not sell below cost,” Oyekanmi said. “The question an average buyer would ask is: why would there be a 20-30% discount in this high inflation environment?
*The name has been changed.