What Black Friday shopping habits reveal about retail’s future

Retail shopping complexes may never fully recover from coronavirus.

Retail shopping complexes may never fully recover from coronavirus. Photo: TND

The Black Friday sales have given Australia’s retail industry a much needed boost, with trade up some 80 per cent compared to last year.

While Australians have in the past shunned American traditions, this one – held the day after Thanksgiving in the US – appears to have been welcomed by consumers and retailers alike.

Australia Post smashed its postal records – shipping some 3.1 million parcels on the following Monday, the most in a single day in its 210-year history.

Data from global e-commerce company Shopify shows Australia was the fourth biggest participant in the sales, after the US, Canada and the UK.

Australians shopped mostly for health and beauty items, as well as DIY and home and garden goods – these categories experienced a 72 per cent increase in sales, compared to 2019.

This is usually what a Black Friday sale in the US looks like. Due to the pandemic, the bargains were predominately online this year. Photo: Getty

We did most of our buying before 10am, just after those sales emails arrived in inboxes at 8am.

Online acceptance

Sure, the statistics are impressive and the insights are interesting, but what do they mean for the future of retail?

According to retailer researcher Louise Grimmer, pretty good things.

Dr Grimmer, a senior marketing lecturer at the University of Tasmania, said the sales showed just how comfortable Australians are with online shopping, having forced to do more of it during the year.

It also shows us how consumers were willing to alter their spending – taking what might usually be spent on travel, and putting it into goods and purchases, Dr Grimmer told The New Daily.

Consumer psychologist Jana Bowden noted that 67 per cent of our online shopping was done from our mobiles, a trend that makes sense when you account for the increase in email marketing this year.

Whether by necessity or enjoyment, online shopping became our favourite hobby this year, Dr Bowden, of Macquarie University, said – its growth is up 75 per cent year-on-year.

“Given that consumers’ appetites have now been whetted, the trend in online shopping is set to stay,” Dr Bowden told TND.

“Even between March and October 8.5 million households both in the main cities and regional Australia shopped online and that was before the major retail sales events of November.”

Despite the strong turnout online, Dr Grimmer says it’s not all over for bricks and mortar shopping.

And yes, there definitely will be that last-minute shopping rush in stores – especially given the repeated warnings from Australia Post to shop early or risk missing the Christmas delivery deadline.

“Despite the huge increase in online shopping, we should remember that sales in bricks and mortar stores are still really strong and many consumers actually want to shop in physical stores,” she said.

“They want to touch and feel the products and get that instant gratification of taking home their purchases straight away without having to pay for delivery or wait for parcels to arrive, they also want information and customer service in-person.”

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