11 November: Singles’ Day.
Singles’ Day falls on November 11 because ’11:11’ is thought to resemble a group of single people. This celebration is about shoppers celebrating their pride in singledom by treating themselves to a gift.
Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba has popularised the day as a ‘Global Shopping Festival’ since 2009, and this year raked in US$17.8 billion in gross merchandise volume within the festival’s 24hr period. This represented a 32 percent increase on 2015.
According to the blow-by-blow account on Alibaba’s blog, the five most popular US brands among Chinese consumers were Apple, Nike, New Balance, Playboy and Skechers. Total gross merchandise volume surpassed US$1 billion in just four minutes and 54 seconds.
No data was available on New Zealand exposure to Singles’ Day shopping mania, but Chinese-based marketing consultant Mark Tanner told Stuff that participating in Singles’ Day could give Kiwi businesses an edge in China, advising them to consider ecommerce rather than focusing on a physical retail presence there.
November 25: Black Friday.
Black Friday is a US shopping event famous for its violence – there’s even a ‘death count’ website which tallies up the number of people killed or maimed while braving the sales. Two new deaths and three injuries were added to the site this year.
According to Reuters, sales and foot traffic at physical stores in the US declined over last year on Black Friday as customers took advantage of less perilous offers online. Internet sales rose accordingly, topping US$3 billion for the first time, while sales at bricks and mortar stores fell 5 percent.
However, the National Retail Federation expects total holiday season sales for the US to jump 3.6 percent to US$655.8 billion this year.
Cloud-based point of sale system company Vend says Kiwi retailers saw a 5 percent rise in in-store sales on Black Friday, with particularly strong spending in Christchurch. Retail spending increased by 15 percent over the average Friday in November there, while in Auckland, spending rose by 8 percent.
“Black Friday is fast becoming one of the biggest retail events of the year for sales and spending in New Zealand,” says Vaughan Rowsell, founder at Vend. “But it’s no longer just one day of big in-store deals – globally, or here in NZ. This year we saw many retailers run online promotions alongside their store-wide sales, and across the entire weekend into Cyber Monday. As competition here heats up and consumers demand flexibility in how and where they shop, it’s only natural that local retailers look at alternative ways to capture that cash.”
Wellington saw a 7 percent year-on-year decline, and was down 6 percent on the November average. Rowsell connected this to the recent earthquakes, saying spending spiked on November 15 as people stocked up on supplies but then declined.
“This isn’t to say there was a lack of appetite from Wellington retailers – discounting in the capital increased by 45 percent on Black Friday this year – but it seems shoppers didn’t match this enthusiasm.”
Fashion and apparel retailers gave the biggest discounts, and also saw the biggest spending boost, with discounting at levels 48 percent higher than the November average, and sales values up 30 percent. Health and beauty retail spending rose by 16 percent, followed by home, lifestyle and gift (11 percent), and food and drink (3 percent), while sports, hobbies and toy sales remained unchanged.
December 13: The peak of New Zealand’s online holiday shopping period?
Software company Adobe has released data which predicts that increased consumer ecommerce activity over the Christmas shopping period will hit its apex on December 13. It forecasts that Australians and New Zealanders will jointly spend AU$10.7 billion online over the Christmas period, with AU$236 million of this spent on December 13.
The company unhelpfully conflates New Zealand shoppers with Australians, but says this rise in online spending is connected to the increasing ease and convenience of online shopping.
“This data speaks plainly – the future of Christmas shopping is online, and it’s increasingly mobile. In fact, in Australia and New Zealand, retail is one of the leading sectors for smartphone traffic and one of the fastest-growing sectors for average mobile conversion year-on-year growth,” says Chris Skelton, managing director for Adobe Australia and New Zealand.
“Australian retailers are optimising mobile content and creating engaging and personalised experiences so that users will be compelled to purchase more on their mobile devices. More and more, Australian consumers have no need to push through the crowds at busy bricks and mortar stores, as they are aware that better deals, a wider selection of products and cheap home delivery are all available from the device in their pocket.”