Public Eye (South Africa)

Consumers warned to be vigilant this Black Friday

- Chanel George

In anticipati­on of the Black Friday sales frenzy starting on November 24, consumers have been warned to be extra cautious as they shop in-store and online.

As in previous years, shoppers will experience long queues at stores and increased web traffic.

In its most recent statement on Black Friday safety, the Fidelity group warned shoppers to be vigilant at all times.

According to Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing and communicat­ions, the Black Friday season often sees an increase in follow-home incidents.

“We are urging all shoppers to be vigilant at malls and shopping centres,” she said.

Hattingh said mall security guards will be on high alert for pickpocket­s and other suspicious activity during this period, but in most cases shoppers are followed home and hijacked in their driveways.

“Criminals are aware these shoppers have a car full of newly-purchased items and are generally easy, distracted targets,” she said.

Hattingh said if you suspect you are being followed, drive immediatel­y to your nearest police station or security provider guard house.

She warned that if you are shopping in a strip shopping mall do not park close to any cash-in-transit (CIT) vehicles.

“Unfortunat­ely, CIT attacks are on the rise and it is safer to park away from these vehicles and to never intercept their exit routes in case of an incident. They are already on high alert and cannot afford to be distracted by shoppers,” said Hattingh.

“While the idea of a quieter shopping mall may seem appealing, you are more vulnerable in the car parks and mall bathrooms,” she said.

Meanwhile, online shopping site has launched an online petition encouragin­g employees to push for early payment so they can stock up on groceries and those goods they have been eyeing all year.

According to statistics collected last year, 49% of shoppers bought groceries and household goods on Black Friday, with home cleaning products making up 66% of sales and toilet paper, 48%.

Onedayonly Sales Director, Laurian Venter said given the current economic climate, with rising fuel and food prices but salaries staying the same, consumers are buying everyday items on Black Friday.

“84% of consumers are planning to seek out discounts on everyday necessitie­s like food and toiletries to alleviate some of their day-to-day expenses,” said Venter.

She said Black Friday sales tend to outshine those of the festive season, with people taking advantage of the discounts and deals to stockpile gifts and goodies ahead of the holidays.

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