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Aussie retailers jump on Black Friday bandwagon

Black Friday has evolved from a strictly US phenomenon into a global retail event. While e-commerce has long enabled international consumers to participate in the shopping frenzy stateside, this year saw more retailers outside the US offering deep discounts in their local markets.

Among the Aussie retailers advertising Black Friday deals online were Kogan, The Iconic, Stylerunner and Red Balloon, while bricks and mortar retailers, including Cotton On, Country Road, Myer and David Jones among others, also cut prices on in-store stock.

“Black Friday is growing in popularity and we’re seeing more and more retailers get involved, as we have with Halloween,” Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association told Internet Retailing.

“Retailers are looking for any which way to engage with consumers and create opportunities to sell things. They’re jumping on the bandwagon. And can you blame them?”

The opportunities indeed are significant. Black Friday this year saw 154 million US consumers spend an average of US$289, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF). This adds up to around US$44.5 billion, and that’s not counting the small but growing number of Black Friday sales generated overseas.

In Australia, high street retailers saw a 6 per cent increase in retail spending on Black Friday compared to the November average, and a 7 per cent increase in sales on last year, according to data from Vend, a POS software provider.

Vend’s data, based on a sample of 2000 small Aussie retailers, also showed the level of in-store discounting on Black Friday was 15 per cent higher than the November average, and up 3 per cent on last year.

Fashion and apparel retailers gave the biggest discounts and saw the biggest spending boost, with discounting at levels 47 per cent higher than the November average, and sales values up 27 per cent.

This year also saw the increasing convergence of Black Friday, which traditionally offered discounts in-store, and Cyber Monday, which traditionally offered discounts online, with many retailers advertising deals both in-store and online from Friday onward. Myer, for instance, promoted its Super Cyber Sale which lasted from Thursday through to Monday.

“Bringing together brick-and-mortar and online is hugely valuable for retailers, as consumers demand options in how and where they shop, at any time of the year,” Vend’s founder Vaughan Rowsell said.

In the US, 108 million people shopped online over the weekend and spent more than US$5 billion by the end of Black Friday, a 17.7 per cent increase from last year, according to the NRF survey. Mobile transactions accounted for US$1.2 billion of online spending, setting a new retail record for mobile revenue in one day.

Australia was ranked third out of 135 countries for most online shopping orders from the US.

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