Australian retail turnover rose 2.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in November 2023, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Robert Ewing, ABS head of business statistics, said: "Black Friday sales were again a big hit this year, with retailers starting promotional periods earlier and running them for longer, compared to previous years.
“The strong rise suggests that consumers held back on discretionary spending in October to take advantage of discounts in November. Shoppers may have also brought forward some Christmas spending that would usually happen in December."
Okay, accepting that the latest retail sales number did show a robust 2% monthly growth, but it may be distorted by the increasing popularity of Black Friday sales in November. More about that later.
One bit of good news is that this shows that consumers are still spending despite higher interest rates. Our strong job market certainly helps this. We will need to see the December figures to see whether it's simply that consumers are spending more or that all they are doing is bringing forward their purchases from December to November.
Black Friday sales impact on Australian retail
Black Friday sales have become an increasingly prominent retail event in Australia over the past decade. Originally from the US, it has evolved into a much larger affair in Australia. Black Friday has become mainstream in the past ten years, changing to a "Black November" event in Australia. Rather than just a day, retailers now run week-long or even month-long sales promoted under the Black Friday banner. See this graph for the past ten years of November growth.
The future of Black Friday in Australia
Black Friday will remain a prominent retail event in Australia, especially as more consumers become conditioned to expect big sales in late November. Retailers should continue to expand Black Friday promotions to maximise sales. Today, many shops open on the Black Friday public holiday to capitalise on foot traffic.