Senior Lifestyle Writer
Black Friday is chaotic, but affordable.
“Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping,” said American film and television actress Bo Derek.
Shopping is fun, if you have enough money to spare and that characterised some Zimbabweans yesterday as they joined the rest of the world in celebrating Black Friday.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, some ‘shopaholics’ were not deterred, although they observed precautionary guidelines during their errands.
Some shop owners said they will stretch the Black Friday to Sunday to accommodate shoppers since they were entering the stores in batches.
The biggest question locally is: “Do we have the actual Black Friday on our calendar or the concept is used as a disguise to clear old stocks in shops?”
In the African context, Black Friday is a borrowed phenomenon.
Some say Black Friday theories are associated with the illuminati, while there are various other theories attached to the day.
Others associate Black Friday with slavery — a day set aside by slave traders to slash the price of slaves. Prospective slave owners would throng the trading centres on that particular day.
This was because most slaves were being sold at the end of November.
Yet others say Black Friday was named after a day in the 18th centuries on which slaves and black peasants would be given a certain time to do their shopping.
The slavery narrative to some extent gives Black Friday a dark past.
But it depends on how one believes in the phenomenon.
According to other narratives, Black Friday is an informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
The day after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the United States Christmas shopping season since 1952.
However, this time around, Thanksgiving Day fell on November 25.
Others note that the first recorded use of the term Black Friday was applied not to holiday shopping, but to financial crisis: specifically the crash of the United States gold market on September 24, 1869.
Either way, in Zimbabwe we do not celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and this makes Black Friday a foreign concept.
Some local shops started advertising Black Friday a week ago, giving their customers time to plan and prepare.
With all the shopping activities that took place yesterday, the day became one of the most profitable days of the year for retailers and businesses.
In fact, some note that the name Black Friday originated from the fact that on the day, businesses would make a lot of profit in the name of having slashed prices.
Businesses usually record profits in black, while losses are put in red, so the black colour signified how businesses smiled all the way to the bank with profits recorded in black on Black Friday.
This makes Black Friday just a commercial gimmick by businesses out to make profits through slashing prices on some items,while other product remain unchanged.
Saturday Herald Lifestyle visited some shops in Harare which had opened as early as 7am for Black Friday yesterday, with the majority of them reinforcing security so as to control crowds.
Some shop owners did not want to talk to the media pertaining to their discount price tags.
Long queues were observed at clothing, electrical shops and supermarkets in Harare’s CBD.
There were near stampedes at some shops where prices were reduced for clearance and some people could be seen buying various items.
A Congolese businessman Bruce Mpsisa, who owns a shop in Kaguvi Street where car parts prices had been reduced, said most of those buying were most likely buying for resell at a higher price.
“We are actually making a huge loss because of the Black Friday craze,” he said.
“The people who are buying from our shop will start diverting our customers because they will offer the same goods at a cheaper price.
“We are going to lose our customers because of this Black Friday.
“In fact, some shop owners are coming here to buy today with the purpose of re-stocking.”
A happy client, Denford Mutashu, said he believed more in Black Friday because that is the day he could shop freely, with more time.
“Where I work they respect the concept and we were given time to go out and buy,” he said.
“I took time to come and shop.
“I believe in Black Friday because it creates a strong bond between shop owners and customers.”
One clothing shop ran a competition where the person who bought clothes for more than $19 000 was to win a voucher valid for the same amount.
“I arrived here at 7:30am and I was number 126 on the queue,” said one of the shoppers.
Belinda Nyathi (56) had to take a rest on a bench enjoying her a snack along First Street.
“I spent about $730,” she said.
“I am already tired because of standing in the queue and searching for the right items.”
Another electrical shop, which had been advertising slashing of prices on Black Friday had its shops in the city overwhelmed yesterday, with some customers purchasing more than one item.
James Maturuse of Highfield suburb, a Form Three tutor at a local college in Glen Norah, said he was saving money for Black Friday since February and he managed to buy a 65-inch television at the shop.
“I am so happy that I now have my desired television, thanks to Black Friday,” he said.
“The stressful part is that there are no refunds. I wish they could put a reasonable discount price tag rather than 20 percent of the actual price.
“It was still expensive, though I had no choice.”
Some shop owners said they were overwhelmed by the demand.
“We managed to record a huge profit compared to other days,” said an official from a furniture shop. “We even took some of our stocks in warehouses.”