Black Friday goes off the boil despite heavier discounting

Retail data from point-of-sale software firm Vend shows that spending on Black Friday decreased by 12 per cent this year, compared to 2016, despite discounting levels increased by 15 per cent.

However, Black Friday still provided a bump in sales and spending compared to an average Friday in November and October with a 13 per cent increase in sales on Black Friday, and a sizeable 38 per cent increase in discounts. When looking at figures across the entire weekend – from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, spending also increased by seven per cent compared to average.

“Vend’s data shows that while sales volumes for Black Friday stayed relatively the same as the previous year, spending dropped. This suggests shoppers were still out in force, but chose to spend less this year – perhaps they’re being more cautious, or perhaps retailers weren’t providing the promotions shoppers were expecting,” says Dave Scheine, Country Manager for APAC at Vend.

“Last year wasn’t a bumper spending year for Black Friday either, though discounting was still high. It’s likely that retailers are being strategic here – using the day as a chance to market to shoppers, clear older stock, or offer more but small promotions that don’t cut too much into their bottom line. For independent retailers it’s especially important that they take part in Black Friday to attract new customers and reward their regulars, without devaluing their products or making it harder to sell closer to Christmas. And there’s also no doubt that the media’s wide coverage of Amazon’s soft launch into Australia last week carved into some retailers’ sales, as consumers might have delayed shopping with the hope of larger discounts available from the Internet giant.”

Vend’s data is at odds with the experiences of a number of retailers, however. Inside Retail, sister publication of ISB, reported this week that online department store Kogan had record Black Friday sales this year, taking $4 million on the day, and that – although it is too early to put a total figure on Black Friday sales across the country – industry insiders are predicting those final figures will top $200 million and exceed the 2016 total.

Of the main centres, Melbourne saw the biggest jump in Black Friday retail spending this year – increasing by 40 per cent compared to the average Friday – while in Sydney spending rose by 18 per cent and in Perth by 17 per cent. Spending in Brisbane decreased on Black Friday by 4 per cent, despite a rise in discounting levels of over 100 per cent.

Health and beauty retailers saw the biggest increase in spending on Black Friday, with a 25 per cent jump in spending compared to an average Friday. This was followed by home, lifestyle and gift stores with a 20 per cent increase. Fashion and apparel stores had a 19 per cent increase in spending, and also had the highest discounting at levels 67 per cent higher than average.

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