- Customers flocked to Game at the Mall of Africa for the first midnight opening since 2019
- The game returns to a one-day Black Friday
- Customers say they’re still on the hunt for big-ticket items
- For more financial news, go to the News24 Business home page.
Nearly 300 customers gathered at Game’s flagship store at The Mall of Africa for the retailer’s first Black Friday midnight opening since 2019.
Hunting for bargains on big-ticket items like TVs, laptops and refrigerators, the excitement of shoppers in the line that snaked about a quarter of the length of the mall was palpable. Several buyers told News24 that they had been saving for months to take advantage of the deals on sale.
Ntebaleng Moloto and her husband Thabiso said they had come looking for electrical appliances and had their eye on items such as televisions and washing machines.
Thabiso told News24 that the couple had been saving for three months before Black Friday and “was very excited because the prices are good.”
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Jairus Modisane, who was first in line, also said he had been saving for a couple of months and was “going to buy a lot of things”, including a television and a stove.
Meanwhile, further down the queue, avid gamer Lebogang Monareng, who lists the car racing game Forza Horizon as his favorite, said he was looking into an Xbox, adding that he had seen a special announcement and decided to “use some of my savings on that.”
Shaun and Devashnie van Wyk said they decided “on the spur of the moment” to come pick up a laptop for their 11-year-old daughter.
When the doors finally opened at the stroke of midnight, there was no mad rush from shoppers. On the contrary, they all patiently but determinedly entered, and had clearly planned in advance what they wanted to buy.
big ticket items
Andrew Stein, Game’s vice president, attended the store and said his stores across the country had experienced a huge turnout for their midnight openings.
He said there were huge queues of buyers on all the images sent to him by the various Games.
Last month, Game, which is part of Walmart-owned Massmart, said it had decided after two straight years of month-long Black November sales, implemented due to the pandemic, to return to a Black Friday sale of one day this year, and to bring back midnight openings. Game said at the time that this was in response to consumer shopping habits continuing to return to normal, and that it would open most of its 108 stores in SA from 12:00 to 20:00 on Friday, November 25, giving buyers more time to access unique offers.
Stein told News24 that Game had been one of the original initiators of midnight openings in the country and that the South Africans have always “responded very well”.
“This year was the first year we were able to reopen and it seems that customers have responded positively.”
What Game prepared for this Black Friday was a strong demand for expensive items, such as refrigerators and televisions.
“Because consumers are so strapped for cash right now, they have been saving all year for this event. In fact, we did research in the last two weeks and 74% of respondents told us they had been saving all year for this event.
“Most of the people I’ve spoken to in line tonight (for example) are looking at TVs, laptops, microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and ovens.”
Online offer with greater reach
He said one item he hoped would be a hit with customers was a Game laptop selling for R1999, which is the “lowest price in South Africa”.
“In fact almost everyone I’ve talked to in this line has come in for one of these. I’ve talked to about 40 people in line.”
Stein said the online retail offer for Black Friday this year also had a “much broader range.”
“We offer free delivery for orders over R450 and then we also offer store pickup for online orders. You order online, pick up in store free of charge. Another big trend this year is around payment options. We just launched last week ‘buy now, pay later’ at all stores nationwide with zero percent interest.
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Mitchell Slape, who will step down as CEO of Massmart at the end of the year, was also in attendance, saying it was his “last Black Friday in South Africa as CEO.”
“I may return in the future (to SA) as a visitor, so you never know. It’s bittersweet. I love this company and the country and I love the way the Game has evolved and is what it is today.”
Slape, who will hand over the reins to current COO Jonathan Molapo, plans to spend a bit of time traveling around SA before returning to the US.
“I’ll be done in January with some administrative responsibilities. I want to spend a couple of months traveling the country and doing some of the things I couldn’t do because of Covid and then I’m going back to the US.”
He said Game’s Black Friday promotion “is about doing everything we can to help customers save money and live better.”
“Black Friday is, not just in SA, a big event in many countries around the world and it’s our way of showing appreciation for customers.”
This week was also the end of an era for Massmart, as the group was officially dropped from the JSE on Tuesday after a R6.4 billion takeover by Walmart, ending more than two decades as a company. public.