THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans thronged the Beitbridge Border Post on Thursday and Friday last week en-route to South Africa for the traditional Black Friday shopping craze that swept across that country.
Many locals took the opportunity to do their shopping ahead of the festive season. Some people said it took four hours to be cleared into South Africa and even longer on their way back.
Black Friday is an international shopping phenomenon, coming the day after the United States holiday of Thanksgiving, regarded as the first day of the Christmas shopping season, on which retailers make many special offers.
“Some goods were just the normal prices. There were no reductions, but just the signs. They are taking advantage of our desperation,” Mercy Ncube of Kwekwe said.
Musina, South Africa’s town closest to Zimbabwe, was almost impassable on pavements and streets alike as Zimbabweans stormed shops which had “reduced” their prices.
Shoppers from as far afield as Harare started arriving in Beitbridge on Thursday and stayed over to cross the border at dawn in time for opening of the shops.
“I have never seen such. I saved (money) throughout the year for that day and I did get what I wanted, but the crowding was not a joke,” Anna Moyo of Gweru said.
Public transport operators who have been going through a dry patch owing to the current exchange rate and cash crises reported brisk business. Groups of shoppers from different parts of Zimbabwe hired buses from their respective towns. Hotels and booking houses in Musina and Beitbridge were exhausted as the shoppers occupied all available places. A fast food outlet ran out of food as most shops failed to cope with demand.
An immigration official said the number of travellers suddenly shot out up Thursday evening and kept rising until Friday noon.–newsday.co.zw