RLC releases Black Friday and November Retail Sales Report, and it's not good news for clothing retailers.

23 December 2020

A severely subdued Black Friday, with sales down 38.0% on last year. November sales down 10.7%.

The Retailers’ Liaison Committee (RLC) released its November Retail Sales Report today, giving further evidence of the impact of the dampened economy on Black Friday and November sales.

Insights that emerge from the RLC report are:

  1. Black Friday retail sales were down 38.0%, despite a surge in e-commerce sales. Consumers avoided the crowds at shopping malls, choosing instead to take their purchases online.
  2. Sales for the month of November were down 10.7%, despite deeper price cuts and longer-running promotions, as consumers continue to tighten their belts.
  3. Trade was encouraging in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, with November week 1 up 3.0% and week 2 up 5.5% on last year, however any early excitement was dampened as sales in week 3 were down 6.7% and Black Friday week was down 26.0% on last year.
  4. Every category traded significantly down on Black Friday, with the weakest performing categories being Kids & Baby (down 47.6%), Men’s Footwear (down 40.2%), Menswear (down 37.1%) and Women’s Outerwear (down 36.8%).
  5. With consumers continuing to spend more time at home, and spending more money on home-related purchases, Homeware was the only category that performed better than last year for the month of November (up 8.4%).

Chairman of the RLC, Shane Butlion, says the subdued economy, job losses and salary cuts continue to severely impact Clothing and Homeware retail sales, and that despite deeper price cuts and longer-running promotions, Black Friday and November results were far below expectations.

“With consumers looking for great deals and with increased competition for the customer’s share of wallet, retailers started offering discounts far earlier than in previous years and Black Friday quickly became Black November. This was also done to distribute foot traffic over the month in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, despite deeper discounts and longer-running promotions, November retail sales were down 10.7% year-on-year, and Black Friday was very disappointing, 38.0% down year-on-year”, said Butlion.

“The RLC data shows that every category traded significantly down on Black Friday, with the weakest performing categories being Kids & Baby (down 47.6%), Men’s Footwear (down 40.2%), Menswear (down 37.1%) and Women’s Outerwear (down 36.8%). As noted in the RLC’s 2020 Trends Report released last month, consumers continue to spend more time at home, and spend more money on home-related purchases. Homeware was the only category that performed better than last year for the month of November (up 8.4%).”

The RLC is an association of Clothing and Homeware retailers, reporting market performance data and market share. Its members include major retailers in South Africa such as Woolworths, Truworths, TFG, Pepkor and Mr Price, as well as international retailers H&M and Cotton On and online retailers Takealot and Superbalist. In total, 16 retail groups participate, spanning 69 retail brands across South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Its industry report tracks several categories within clothing, footwear, accessories and homeware.

RLC retail data is provided directly by its retail members, and with over 50 sub-categories tracked, it is at a more granular level of detail than any report of its kind in South Africa. Its reports are made available to both retail members and non-retail subscribers earlier than Statistics SA data.

“We are actively growing retail membership and providing access to non-retailers to the aggregated data. Enquiries can be made through our website – www.retailers.org.za”, concluded Butlion.