Black Friday sales get tills ringing as Aussies cash in

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Shoppers spending big at Black Friday sales have delivered a larger-than-expected boost to retail figures.

Retail turnover rose two per cent in November, following a 0.4 per cent drop in October, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.

Consumers using longer Black Friday sales to shop in the lead-up to Christmas was a major factor in the retail uptick.

The bureau’s head of business statistics Robert Ewing said shoppers held back on discretionary spending during October in preparation for the November sales.

“Black Friday sales were again a big hit this year, with retailers starting promotional periods earlier and running them for longer compared to previous years,” he said.

“The popularity of Black Friday events is affecting spending patterns in the lead-up to Christmas, this causes more volatile monthly movements in seasonally adjusted data.”

CommSec economists Craig James and Ryan Felsman said Australians had been cashing in on loyalty points and patiently waiting for deals ahead of the sales amid a cost-of-living crunch.

The retail surge during November was driven by an increase in spending on household goods, which rose 7.5 per cent, followed by department stores at 4.2 per cent, clothing and footwear at 2.7 per cent and other retail at 1.1 per cent.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said food and takeaway led the growth, as people prioritised essentials.

“Shoppers are increasingly feeling the crunch of cost-of-living pressures and interest rate increases, making it a challenging time to be a discretionary retailer,” he said.

“While spending expectations heading into the broader pre-Christmas spending period were subdued, the growing popularity of Black Friday gave retailers some much-needed reprieve with shoppers seeking out bargains amid intense financial pressure.”

Food-related industries also had an uptick, with a 0.4 per cent increase in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food spending.

The retailers association says household goods recorded its first year-on-year increase in 2023, with the only category logging a decline being clothing, footwear and accessories.

“Retailers told us that the success of Black Friday sales was boosted by consumers seeking out discounts in response to cost-of-living pressures,” Mr Ewing said.

“It’s clear that spending during Black Friday sales continues to grow across the country, with retail turnover increasing by more than one per cent in all states and territories.”

South Australia registered the largest rise of 2.8 per cent in retail spending, followed by Victoria with 2.4 per cent and Queensland with 2.2 per cent.

While this was encouraging news for retailers, Mr Felsman and Mr James say the November increase is likely temporary, with retail declines usually recorded in December, despite Christmas and Boxing Day sales.

“Hopefully (December) will reveal savvy Aussie shoppers, picking up bargains and applying downward pressure on retail prices, and therefore overall inflation,” they wrote in a note.

 

Andrew Brown, Tess Ikonomou and Kat Wong
(Australian Associated Press)

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