The first wave of statistics coming out of Black Friday on November 24 indicated that Kiwis had cottoned on to the American shopping holiday, with retail spending up 32.9 percent on the previous Friday. Now, further data from payments provider Vend has backed that intel up.
According to Vend’s figures, retail stores in New Zealand saw an 18 percent increase in spending on November 24 compared with an average Friday across October and November. Vend has reported that discounting levels were up by 24 percent on the day – 10 percent lower than the previous year.
This activity earned retailers a 12 percent increase in sales volumes and a 5 percent rise in spending.
Dave Scheine, country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Vend, says the increased Black Friday activity extended into the following weekend and across Cyber Monday as well. This echos trends in the US, where retailers are increasingly starting their Black Friday sale activity early and running it across several days to spread out the “optimism” of the holiday and avoid creating the intense competition between shoppers which leads to the holiday’s notorious chaos.
According to the Black Friday Death Count website, 2017 saw no deaths and four casualties in the US. An altercation in Kmart left one shopper with a shattered hip, while two mall shootings and a brawl accounted for the other three injuries. No reports of such behaviour were found in New Zealand.
“While retailers certainly saw an uplift in sales on Black Friday, it was actually Saturday that stole the show - spending was up 15 percent compared to previous Saturdays in October and November, spend was also 5 percent higher than Black Friday, and discounting levels were the highest of recent months. Retailers know that Kiwi shoppers generally prefer to hit the stores on a Saturday so they planned for this - and it paid off,” says Scheine.
“It’s also clear from our data that while attractive discounting is needed to bring those shoppers in the door on a day like Black Friday, it doesn’t necessarily mean people will spend up large - consumers are wanting to get more for less,” says Scheine. “Black Friday can often be more about attracting new customers and shifting stock, than actually making good profit.”
According to Vend, Christchurch saw the biggest jump in sales on Black Friday with a 22% percent increase compared to average Fridays, while Auckland had a 14 percent increase and Wellington retailers saw a 9 percent rise.
Looking at the same data by category, fashion and apparel retailers gave the biggest discounts and reaped the fattest rewards, with a 57 percent increase in sales and a 124 increase in discounts. The next-best-performing categoris were: health and beauty, with 33 percent sales growth; home, lifestyle and gift stores, with a 31 percent increase; and sports, hobby and toy stores, with 3 percent.
Ecommerce multi-category retailer Mighty Ape reported that Black Friday was a record-breaking event, with more orders received and shipped on a single day than ever before. Seventeen products per minute were sold at Mighty Ape, with a total of 13 tons of product sold. The total sales from Thursday and Friday represented growth of more than 70 percent over the previous year.
Digital games was the tech-focused retailer’s most popular category, with toys, food and drink, and movies and TV rounding out the rest of the top 10 items from other categories.
The single biggest order placed was $5,762.12 in total: “a very powerful computer and a bunch of components to go with it.” The smallest order was a $2 box of ‘Sands Alive!’ sand.
Despite this strong retail activity, Retail NZ’s latest Retail Radar report indicates that retailers are in need of more Black Friday-style spending activity. More than half of the survey’s respondents reported failing to hit their sales targets in the September quarter.
"The latest Retail Radar report shows that 57 per cent of retailers failed to hit their sales targets for the period ended 30 September, which coincided with an almost non-existent growth of 0.1 per cent according to the Retail Trade Survey released by Statistics NZ last week," Greg Harford, Retail NZ's general manager for public affairs says. "This is the third quarter in a row when a significant number of retailers failed to hit their targets, but there is more optimism for the current quarter, with 75 per cent of retailers expecting to meet or exceed their sales targets through to the end of the year.
Harford says data suggests consumer spending has been increasingly constrained during the first nine months of 2017, citing economic uncertainty connected with the general election; a stall in Auckland’s housing price growth and increasing pressure on housing budgets from insurance and rates. He also noted that the de minimis tax loophole continued to enable foreign ecommerce websites to place competitive pressure on Kiwi retailers.