Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
Consumers across the world pumped more than $US6 billion ($8 billion) into the retail sector, of which Australia played its part, during the frenzied shopping days known as Black Friday hosting deals and extending into Cyber Monday.
Two-day sales starting on Thanksgiving in the US last Thursday, totalled $US5.3 billion, marking an 18 per cent increase from a year earlier, according to a report from Adobe Systems.
Amazon, the giant internet business, says many of the best Black Friday deals on its site heat up during the "Turkey 5"..
"Customers want to shop anywhere, any time, and any way, especially during the five super popular days for online shopping running from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday," Amazon vice-president Steve Shure said.
While it's an American tradition, it marks the start of the lead-up to the busy Christmas period in Australia. But evidence suggests that more buyers are going online for bargains and convenience, which could force more discounting to entice shoppers back to traditional bricks and mortar shops.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping context suggests that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving.
This usage dates to at least 1961. More than 20 years later, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to turn a profit, thus going from being "in the red" to being "in the black".
But as a reflection of the times, spending via mobile devices on Friday in the US increased 33 per cent to an all-time high of $1.2 billion. In-store visits dropped a combined 1 per cent during the two days from a year earlier, ShopperTrak, a retail data provider, said.
Aussies love US brands
Australia Post's eCommerce general manager Ben Franzi said in the lead-up to this year's Black Friday-Cyber Monday Sales, monthly registrations for the group's US freight forwarding service, ShopMate, tripled.
"In the past month we had about 13,500 new registrations, compared with our monthly average of 3000 to 4000," Mr Franzi said.
"Online shopping is continuing to gain popularity in Australia, with sales increasing 15.9 per cent in the six months to June 2016.
"We are continuing to see strong growth. In the lead-up to Christmas, which is our busiest time of the year, we are processing more than 1 million parcels a day."
Mr Franzi said most Australians shop online locally, with domestic purchases accounting for more than 70 per cent of all online sales.
"The US continues to be a popular buying location for Australians who are looking to purchase brands and products that they wouldn't normally be able to buy locally," he said.
Australia Post is offering ShopMate customers 15 per cent off shipping until December 31, 2016.
Not to be left out from the frenzy, Solomon Lew's Premier Investments' Portmans apparel store, among others in its stable, had a 30 per cent Black Friday sale, which morphed into a Cyber Monday sale which ends at midnight on Monday.
The South African-owned Freedom Furniture did the same, as did the UK apparel store TopShop TopMan, which offered 30 per cent discounts in its Australian stores.
While not calling it a Black Friday sale, the Country Road clothing chain held a three-day, 25 per cent off homewares and accessories "event", which ended on Sunday night.
Online sales to rise
According to the NAB online retail sales index, in dollar terms, Australians spent $18.1 billion on online retail in the 12 months to November 2015 and while the data is not yet available for this year, suggestions are that it will be higher.
That rate of sales indicates that online spending is the equivalent to 7.3 per cent of spending at traditional bricks & mortar retailers as measured by the ABS.
Daniel Bracken, Myer chief merchandise and customer officer, and deputy chief executive said the group's customers closely follow global retail trends and "so we offered our own Myer Super Cyber Sale on Friday and Saturday".
"Customers enjoyed great offers online and in our stores, with small electrical appliances and cosmetics among the most popular purchases," Mr Bracken said.
"Our Melbourne customers were also treated to a Christmas carnival on Saturday, with live performances and entertainment to bring Christmas shopping to life in Bourke Street Mall."
According to CommSec chief economist Craig James, the latest data paints a positive picture for Australian businesses as the country moves into the Christmas spending period, showing continued recovery in spending after uncertainty around Brexit and the federal and US elections.
"Spending slowed from December 2015 through to April 2016. But in an environment of improved certainty, low interest rates and consumer confidence, we're now seeing spending expand at faster than the average monthly rate over the past decade."
Growth was strongest in NSW, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, and in industry sectors such as amusement and entertainment and government services.