Retail data from point-of-sale software firm Vend has found that Black Friday spending in Australia 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, according to the study.
When looking at figures across the entire weekend, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, spending also increased by 7 per cent compared to the average.
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 spending rose by 18 per cent in Sydney and 17 per cent in Perth.
Spending in Brisbane dropped on Black Friday by 4 per cent, despite a rise in discounting levels of over 100 per cent.
Looking at the categories, health and beauty retailers saw the biggest increase in spending on Black Friday, jumping 256 per cent 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 rise in spending, and also had the highest discounting at levels 67 per cent higher than average.
Dave Scheine, country manager for the Asia-Pacific region at Vend, said that while the data shows that 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?” he said.
“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 marketing 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.”