Black Friday is synonymous with frenzy and furore in the US, however Australia has only recently jumped on the bandwagon. The sales event, and its online counterpart Cyber Monday, brought in over $15 billion dollars globally last year according to Adobe Analytics, and was expected to reach over $320 million this year in Australia. With all the hype building around the upcoming sales in Australia, more brands were expected to join the event and most did not fail to disappoint however there is still a long way for Black Friday to go in Australia.
Overseas brands compete with the Australian locals
Amazon was the big entrant in 2018, after it was widely expected to launch in time for last year’s sales event. The online retailer was offering significant sales across fashion, accessories, cosmetics, electronics, books, and more. In support of its Black Friday participation, Amazon quietly reversed its decision to stop shipping products to Australia from the US and UK on Thursday which was implemented due to online GST changes back in July. Despite the total amount of discounts down 12% in 2018 for Black Friday, Amazon Australia was offering around 1,200 deals, the third most in Australia after Kogan and Catch which were offering around 2,400 and 1,700 deals each respectively. The significant amount of deals on offer by Amazon was a calculated effort to rebound from its lacklustre Australian launch and capitalise on its US brand to win competition.
While Amazon made the effort to support its Australian customers during Black Friday, popular UK fashion e-tailer ASOS missed the opportunity. Despite the brand telling Australians on Instagram that it would be participating in the event, discounts were not available to Aussie shoppers come sales day. ASOS’ reasoning that Australian shoppers were not eligible for the discounts due to its recent participation in Click Frenzy, an annual Australian sales event, did not soothe the trigger-happy fingers of angry customers slamming the brand on social media. Similar e-tailers Misguided, The Iconic, and Boohoo offered significant discounts expected by ASOS, potentially moving in on the disappointed shoppers.
Not all local retailers were ready for Black Friday
With increased online participation in Black Friday this year and 13% less in-store spending than last year, tech retailer JB Hi-Fi was unable to rise to the occasion due to glitches with its website and crashing. During the sale shoppers encountered glitches on some product pages as well as problems logging in to complete transactions. JB Hi-Fi’s technical problems during Black Friday left some shoppers disappointed, with some customers turning to social media to vent their frustrations. Despite these difficulties, JB Hi-Fi has announced that its online sales grew 32% in FY18 compared to its total sales which only grew 6%. While the overall growth in online sales cannot be attributed to Black Friday as a singularity, there is a correlation between JB Hi-Fi’s growth online and Black Friday’s online growth in Australia.
The growth of a competitive sales environment has created an ideal environment for millennial shoppers to thrive. Finder AU’s survey with Pureprofile in 2017 about Australian’s planning to participate in Black Friday showed that millennial’s were the most likely to hold out for sales while Baby Boomers were unsurprisingly more likely to buy what they wanted when they wanted it. This dichotomy has led to brands specifically marketing towards millennials during Black Friday through messaging around status and luxury.
Although Black Friday does not yet have the prominence of voice that it does in the US, it has reached its highest awareness due to more and more brands joining the sales event. Shoppers searching for Black Friday in Australia through Google was up 49% during the 2018 sales weekend compared to the 2017 sales event, according to Google Trends, and is expected to continue to grow in awareness. Despite the public being aware of Black Friday, McCrindle Research’s study in 2017 showed that perceptions around Cyber Monday are still relatively low in Australia, with 55% of its respondents not even having heard of the event. With such low awareness around Cyber Monday it was nice to see such a big marketing push around the event, especially by SurfStitch and Microsoft.
Will Boxing Day remain the premier sales event?
Like many US traditions, Black Friday is growing in Australia and is expected to continue showing increased participation by consumers. The wide variety of significant discounts across fashion, tech, white goods, cosmetics, travel, books, and even property is an enticing offer for consumer’s pre-Christmas shopping. However, the question of whether the rising popularity of Black Friday will eat into Australia’s more traditional Christmas sales events has yet to be determined.