Kiwi shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of Black Friday deals to snap up a bargain before Christmas. Almost unheard-of 10 years ago, the last Friday in November is now giving sales numbers a considerable boost before the Christmas rush begins. The $442 million spent during Black Friday weekend in 2018 was up 8% on the same weekend in 2017, with non-food core retail up 20% – it seems clear that Black Friday is gaining momentum.

Christmas Eve remains New Zealand’s biggest shopping day, with Boxing Day also among the busiest; the good news for retailers is that strong sales on Black Friday aren’t cannibalising those traditionally high-traffic days. Instead, it’s becoming an additional fixture on the retail calendar, slightly reducing early December spend but giving stores a chance to highlight their pre-Christmas specials and helping customers get a head’s start on their festive shopping. Shoppers who want to tick off some of their gift-buying before December starts are looking for deals, so Kiwi merchants need to be organised with special offers both online and in stores.

Which retailers are likely to see the biggest benefits?

Last year we saw a strong increase in Black Friday spending compared to the previous Friday across a wide range of merchants, with these categories getting the biggest boost:

  1. Department stores, up 129.9%.
  2. Toy and game retail, up 82.9%.
  3. Footwear retail, up 80.9%.
  4. Automotive parts and accessories, up 73.8%.
  5. Furniture stores and appliance stores, up 66.8% and 66% respectively.

The largest increase by dollar value was in the apparel sector, where spending was up $3.47 million (56.9%), followed by department stores, which were up by $2.27 million, and home decorating stores, up by $1.2 million.

Tech is also traditionally strong: PriceSpy reported that 89% of its most-visited online products during Black Friday 2018 were electronics and tech gadgets, with the remainder being mainly whiteware and household appliances. The site also warned that 10% of its listed products actually increased in price on Black Friday, so shoppers should do their research before assuming they’re getting a great deal.

A shopping bump across the whole country

Almost every region saw at least a modest spending bump last year on Black Friday when compared to the previous Friday, excluding only the West Coast (-0.2%). The most dramatic increase was in Canterbury, up 39.9%, followed by Taranaki (23.5%) and then South Canterbury (21.6%).

In dollar terms, Auckland saw the largest increase in retail spending – up $11.31 million. Canterbury was next, up $7.38 million, then Wellington, up $2.2 million.

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Creating superior retail experiences

Black Friday began in the USA, where it gained traction as a retail event in the 1980s and is now followed by Cyber Monday (designed to promote online shopping). Stores have created a hype around the day, with a sense of exclusivity and one-time deals to generate as much excitement as possible. This is part of a wider trend that we see across the retail sector: making shopping a memorable experience rather than a crossing-off-your-list exercise.

That kind of experiential marketing has driven Singles Day to become the world’s biggest-spending day, and that’s something that Kiwi retailers could consider when they plan for future Black Fridays.

Large brands and stores begin advertising Black Friday deals and discounts online in October, usually with dedicated pages for Black Friday offers. Meanwhile, in stores, products are displayed with signs like ‘Not available until Friday’ in the first few weeks of November. By adding in events to exclusive deals, local Black Friday spending is likely to continue growing. By offering genuinely excellent deals, alongside positive customer experiences, local retailers can also drive repeat business on other days of the year.