Staying safe, having fun and keeping that second COVID-19 wave at bay

Black (Friday) November Responsibility?

This year’s Black Friday will be like no other. After all we’ve never had a Covid-19 situation before.

Before you go out and fight for another TV…

  • Is your life worth a bargain?
  • In our current climate, is it responsible of retailers to urge people to buy more things they cannot afford?

A few months ago we’d probably never have considered even thinking about a situation like Black Friday being possible. After all who’d want to be standing in lines with people pushing and shoving to get their coveted appliance or item of clothing. This goes against everything we’ve been doing to avoid infection during the pandemic. According to Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx, this, similar to going back to sports events, has to be given careful consideration around human behaviour. “The main thing is that stores must give this a lot of thought as their responsibility is to their staff first, and then to their customer. Every precaution that can be taken, must be taken.”

So how are shops in South Africa preparing for this. For many they’ve decided to just make November Black Friday the whole month of November and for others like Takealot, Friday the 13th seemed a suitable day. They felt that as online retailers they’re safe anyway but were taking advantage of the opportunity to get in early with their specials which they’re offering until the end of the month.

But what about stores who can’t just rely on online sales. According to Allan Hirsch, founder and CEO of Hirsch’s Homestores, his customers can rest assured that not only will they be safe but they will get what they come for on the Black Friday weekend starting on the 27th November. “At first dealing with Covid-19 safety was really difficult for our staff but once they got into the swing of things it wasn’t that difficult. People didn’t always like wearing their masks in the shop but since the first few weeks we’ve had no negative feedback.

The Black Friday onslaught

When asked how his stores are planning to cope with the hordes that will come to get the bargains up for grabs that weekend Hirsch replies confidently, “We’re expecting a lot of people but we’re confident in the training we’ve given our staff. Temperatures will be taken when people arrive. There will be specially sanitised seats spaced apart and as people arrive they’ll be asked what they’ve come for, given a ticket for that item with the assurance they’ll get what they want. We’ll have 25 sales people on the floor and allow in 25 people at a time so each person is personally attended to.

“We keep track of how much stock we have of any one item and only give out the amount of tickets to match. When we’re out of stock on that item we’ll immediately tell people. That way you reduce any pushing or shoving and everyone’s happy.

“We’ll also give out special cardboard boxes of water so there’ll be no dirty coffee cups lying around, keeping everything and everyone safe. We feel it’s all about communicating with our staff and our customers. For instance when it comes to masks – no mask no entry into the shop. That’s not negotiable. Ours is a family business and we’re about our team members and our customers. After all without them we don’t have a business. We’ve had three preparation training sessions and will do another one just before the 27th. We’re ready and prepared.”

“I think making this a three day event, instead of just one day was a wise move by Hirsch’s as by giving people extra time and assurance of stock, you’ll mitigate some of the danger,” adds Rodrigues.

“This is still not a time to let your guard down. “Whatever shop you go to that day, or that weekend, make sure you’re properly armed with your mask, disinfectant and hand sanitiser. Don’t just rely on a spray at the door. Keep your distance and stay safe.”