Black Friday at Shoprite Novare Mall

Today, 25th November was Black Friday, possibly, the world over.

It was no different here in Nigeria where retailers fell over themselves trying to woo customers with what they touted as fantastic promotional offers.

Ever since the culture of online shopping became entrench in our psyche as Nigerians, there have been a surge in the popularity of the concept of Black Friday. And over the years too, even the brick and mortal stores have picked up on this fad, perhaps after noticing the big haul made by the online stores during this period.

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s adaptation of Black Friday has been seen largely as a scam. Major online retail stores have been accused of giving fictitious and non-existent discounts on their products after manipulating their listed prices. There have been a growing apathy by Nigerians to to this alien concept of Black Friday.

It was with this reservation at the back of my mind that i took a drive to Shoprite in Novare mall to see what they have on offer for Black Friday. It was a short drive from my home, so i felt i did not have much to lose anyway. At worst, i will just window shop if the prices were not right.

On reaching there, i got a very big shock.

Those who had witnessed the thick human traffic in Oshodi (Lagos) back in the 1990s would probably understand what i saw as i entered the store.  The crowd in the store was unbelievable. A quick glance at the in-store flyer and, suddenly, I knew why. The store was offering large discounts on a not so long list of groceries; Noodles, Pepsi et al, Kellogs cereal, vegetable oil, Colgate toothpaste, and a bunch of other items. It didnt help that it was month end and a lot of women were also doing their monthly grocery shopping for December.

Nigerians and awoof!

Indeed, it was a struggle getting round the aisles. “Excuse me … sorry … ” was my sing-song as i tried to weave my shopping cart through the human traffic, sometimes intentionally – “innocently” – using my cart to brush past some shoppers who chose to stand still in the middle of aisles.

I was not very surprised that most of the items with large discounts were fast running out. Some had actually run out. The time was just about 10am.
It was all too much effort and after about 30 minutes of weaving through the crowd, i was getting tired and could not wait to leave the store.

If only i knew.

On an average day, queues at Shoprite tills can be long and rowdy. Today was not an average day. The queue was very long, windy and of course, unruly. Worst still, there were no store officials in sight to organize the queues and make the process faster.

At a point, i was tempted to abandon my cart and walk away. Then i remembered the effort i put into making my selections and decided to wait it out. It ended up being a 2 hour wait.

The cashier at Till Point 2 spent about 30 minutes on a single customer, a lady two steps ahead of me on the queue, who had problems with her Diamond bank ATM. I was livid but kept quiet. Anyway, I didn’t need to talk. They were 3 women at the sidelines who were doing a better job than i could ever do.

Finally, it was my turn.

Thankfully it was uneventful, and i was out of the door about 10 minutes later, with a sigh of relief, whistling to Craig David’s 2000 hit “Walking Away” wafting through the in-store speakers, not sure how soon i will be visiting that store again, if at all;

I’m walking away from the troubles in my life
I’m walking away oh to find a better day
I’m walking away from the troubles in my life
I’m walking away oh to find a better day
I’m walking away

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