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Many embrace, and some morally oppose Black Friday sales

Thanks to the global online promotions calendar, Boxing Day is no longer the revered retail event it once was. With a record Black Friday behind us, it would seem international sales days are turning Aussies into savvy shoppers and changing the local retail calendar.


Australia may be thousands of kilometres from the high streets of London, Paris and New York, but in today’s economy, there are no borders. Consider recent sales events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Both originated in the United States, where Thanksgiving, which is held on the fourth Thursday in November, marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. The events are still relatively new here, but that hasn’t stopped shoppers capitalising on the sales to pick up some bargains. Last year Cyber Week events grew by 31.6 per cent year on year according to data from Australia Post, and largely merged with the traditional holiday period. Black Friday sales this year are expected to set new records as international borders remain shut preventing people from splurging on holidays. At the time of writing, no sales data has been published but it’s clear that more and more Aussies are turning online for their Christmas shopping. In just the last two years, Black Friday has outpaced homegrown sales events like Click Frenzy in Australia and Boxing Day in the UK, according to new research from Adobe Analytics.

The growth of Black Friday is a telling example of the influence the global marketplace has on consumers and retailers, which are used to adopting retail trends from the US. Last year, many Australian retailers, including ASOS, Kogan, The Iconic, Stylerunner, Red Balloon and Ebay, as well as bricks-and-mortar stalwarts, Myer and David Jones, offered heavy discounts on Black Friday. Experts say even more retailers will jump on the bandwagon this year. The adoption of the promotion by larger retailers like Myer highlights how embedded the US sale day is in the commercial calendar. Retail Oasis consultant Pippa Kulmar says retailers need to think carefully about the pros and cons of introducing Black Friday/Cyber Monday to their customers. “There are a bunch of questions I would ask myself before deciding to participate. Is having a Black Friday sale appropriate to your brand? If you’re a mass retailer that competes on price, it’s probably the right strategy for you,” Kulmar tells IRW.

What to do when your brand is philosophically opposed to mindless consumption and endless discounting? US outdoor retailer REI has famously closed for business on Black Friday for some years, encouraging customers instead to ‘opt outside’. Melbourne-grown label, Arnsdorf, is championing Black Fridye, which makes it simple to love your favourite clothes longer by dying them black. While an email recently popped into my inbox from New-Zealand fashion brand, Maggie Marilyn, announcing “No more markdowns. From today, we’ll never go on sale.”

However, there’s no doubt that buying only sustainable, durable goods (particularly fashion) can be expensive. Although spending choosing to ‘opt outside’ is certainly an affordable alternative to Black Friday! For many people though, the pre-Christmas sales present an excellent opportunity to finally purchase an item we’ve been coveting for months or cut down on the expense of gifts over the holiday period.

Molly Bruce



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