It was handbags and wallets at dawn as South Africans stormed the shops to take advantage of Black Friday specials.
“You are too late. The rush is over. You should have been here at 7am,” a shop assistant at Game in Cape Town’s CBD said in the relative calm that reigned two hours later.
Nearby at Edgars, high-heeled strappy sandals that were tried on in a rush and rejected littered the shop floor.
Up at Checkers in Pretoria, bottles of Worcestershire sauce and other condiments were broken in a bunfight that then spread to the Lux soap shelf.
At their Emmerentia branch in Johannesburg, Checkers staff were calling out discount prices and putting items in shoppers’ trolleys unsolicited. One exhausted assistant finally sat down on the floor, head on folded arms.
The items Checkers ran out of first? Alcohol and Doom insect spray.
As queues started stretching all the way down the product aisles, blocking the shelves, one frustrated shopper was seen nicking a tray of oxtail from her neighbour’s trolley.
There were scenes of solidarity too. People pulled each other’s trolleys along or saved their spot in the queue as they went back down the aisle for more.
At the Waterfront in Cape Town, ladies chatted in sisterly fashion outside the restroom, telling newcomers the wait should not be much longer than five minutes.
More patience was called for at the V & A’s branch of French leisure wear standby Lacoste. The store was letting in one new customer for every one that exited – just like those luxury stores in Paris besieged by busloads of tourists.
But many shoppers finally had to choose between making it to the till or to the office.
Our Johannesburg correspondent scooped up bed linen, a steam iron, a pram, a cooler box, a washing basket and more at Game downtown then woke up his brother to come and queue with his trolley.
Whatever that favour cost, it was likely worth it. The till slip said his savings came to more than double the actual purchase price.