Embracing the chaos: Kiwi retailers do Black Friday

  • News
  • November 27, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Embracing the chaos: Kiwi retailers do Black Friday

We recently wrote about how UK and US retailers are bracing themselves for Black Friday madness (Stampedes! Stabbings! Pepper spray!) but what about New Zealand? Has this chaotic sales event taken off here?

Retail NZ general manager of public affairs Greg Harford says Black Friday is a relatively new arrival to New Zealand, but the organisation is starting to see major retailers pick it up.

“Black Friday is a major shopping event in the US and is also significant in the UK. Kiwi consumers who have spent time in those countries, or those who regularly shop online from big overseas websites, will certainly have Black Friday sales on their radar,” Harford says. 

“There’s been a lot of marketing by some of the major players this year, so consumer awareness will be growing.”

Google data shows searches for ‘Black Friday sales’ in New Zealand jumped 22 percent between 2012 and 2014. 2012 was considered the first year Kiwi retailers got on board with the holiday.

Searches for ‘Black Friday sales 2015’ have also increased 40 percent this week. Full data on this year’s searches will be released once the sales day is over. 

Harford says Black Friday is growing in significance for retailers.

“It’s becoming an increasingly important pre-Christmas sales day, and over time we think more retailers are likely to pick it up,” he says.

However, Boxing Day sales still dominate searches and remain the biggest sales event of the year, so it doesn’t look like Black Friday will reach its level of popularity anytime soon.

Some of the retailers embracing Black Friday include The Warehouse, which has its “Red Friday” sale event.

It has been doing Red Friday for about three years now and has seen it grow in popularity each year.

Recent UK arrival Topshop Queen St is hoping to lure in shoppers with American-style Black Friday sales of up 50 percent off its stock. Unlike other retailers whose sales are limited to today only, its stock will be on sale until Sunday.

Harvey Norman, which ran into hot water in its last sale when a site glitch allowed customers to buy items worth thousands of dollars for under $100, is getting amongst the Black Friday festivities and hosting a sale.

New Zealand Post’s YouShop also has a deal going for a 10 percent discount of its services valid until December 5. In an email, it linked shoppers to retailers overseas which are big players in Black Friday such as eBay, Walmart and Amazon.

Ecommerce only store Mighty Ape is also running a 70 percent off sales promotion with Black Friday, ‘Super Saturday and Sunday’ and Cyber Monday.

While some shoppers are enjoying the sales festivities, others are opposed to the idea of trying to make an American sales event happen here.

Also, as Mike O’Donnell said on Stuff, cyber Monday revenue (the digital equivalent of Black Friday) being down on the previous year could be attributed to online retailers hosting sales all the time.

“My kids are still young enough that decorating the Christmas tree is a real treat.  The younger asked the older why we couldn't have Christmas every day. The older one – wise beyond her 13 years – noted that if every day was Christmas then no day would be Christmas,” O’Donnell wrote.

“It may be that the same thing happens to the Cyber Monday phenomena.”

The same might be noted for serial sales retailers in New Zealand, such as Kathmandu, which has been criticised for its discount-driven retail strategy.

Nielsen New Zealand also recently found the portion of sales made on promotional items in New Zealand in supermarkets is 59 percent, one of the highest in the world. 

It warned that while this benefits the consumer, serious problems develop when retailers are motivated by sales.

"Price discounting can be effective at building short-term share, but the impact on brands long-term is questionable. If more funds are being allocated to price discounting, less is available for brand building and more importantly R&D (research and development). Without strong innovation pipelines, many suppliers will struggle to find a way out of the downward spiral. Take the bread category for example. Recent price reductions ($1 bread) have taken an estimated $30 million out of the category," it said.

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