Black Friday is here, and with it are some of the biggest sales and discounts of the year. With rising costs of living in the spotlight for much of the year, bargain hunters are set to flock to stores and online, searching for the best savings.
Black Friday significantly impacts retail in Australia, with the ABS reporting a record-high rise in retail turnover in 2022. Major bank reports estimated that Australians spent more than $7.1 billion across the four-day Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2022, boosting spending on clothing, footwear, furniture, and electronic goods, and 2023 is poised to see a similar spending spree.
Black Friday sales officially begin on Friday, November 24; however, many retailers have already started their deals early, providing the perfect opportunity to purchase items you've been thinking about for a while or to get Christmas presents sorted early.
Online shopping is quickly becoming the favoured method of shopping, given its ease and convenience. However, there are risks associated with online shopping. Industry experts urge people to be careful when buying online this year, especially when it comes to scams and theft.
CHOICE senior campaigns and policy advisor Alex Soderlund said scams had been on CHOICE's radar all year, with some of the biggest threats to consumers including phishing websites impersonating major brands.
"Black Friday is a huge time for online shopping and sales, which also means scammers will be out in full force," he said. "Our recent investigation showed that scam ads are rife on digital platforms. Platforms like Google and Meta should be ensuring this kind of fraudulent content doesn't reach users."
Making sure websites are legitimate and that payment portals are secure is just part of the risk, according to third-party logistics provider B dynamic Logistics. Cofounder and CEO Mal Siriwardhane said shoppers across the country needed to be alert with parcel theft hitting record levels.
"While this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday events are tipped to be the biggest yet, we are also seeing a rise in the number of parcels being taken from people's front doors," he said.
"Last year, online traffic in the retail segment saw an increase of over 70 per cent in online sessions on Black Friday compared to the previous week; this means there will be a lot more parcels being delivered over the following days and weeks.
"Doorstep parcel theft is usually a crime of opportunity, and shoppers need to be prepared and ensure they have a good plan in place to avoid their parcels being taken."
According to Mr Siriwardhane, nearly 220,000 households experienced theft that included delivered online shopping parcels in 2021, and he said there were several ways that people could protect themselves and their purchases.
Wireless surveillance cameras are easy to install and can be purchased from hardware stores. Most include an app so you can view your front door from anywhere as long as you have internet access, and you can also place security stickers on windows to let thieves know they are being watched.
Purchase items from retailers that offer parcel tracking. Many logistics and delivery partners offer customers the ability to track the journey, location and delivery of their items in transit, and by doing so, customers have a better understanding of when deliveries should arrive and can make alternative arrangements if needed.
Many homes now have a smart lockable box at their front door, which enables delivery drivers to simply open the box and drop the item in. Lockboxes can be controlled remotely via an app, enabling the shopper to unlock the box before the delivery driver arrives and lock it again once the item has been delivered.
Complete delivery instructions fully
Provide clear delivery instructions at the online checkout when purchasing items online. Most checkouts can include additional information, so use this and ensure your details are clear and straightforward.
Signature on delivery
Depending on the options available when completing delivery information at the online checkout, if you intend to be home or have someone to collect the item, ensure you tick the signature confirmation box.
Involve a neighbour
Usually, if you can't be at home to accept a delivery, the driver will take it to the post office, but this isn't always convenient. If you can't be home, arrange with someone to collect the item.
Stick to the plan when bargain hunting at this year's sales
When it comes to Black Friday, everyone has unique strategies for securing the best value for their hard-earned dollar.
However, there are increasing tips from industry experts about how to best take advantage of the upcoming sales.
Shoppers usually look to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for two reasons - to find heavily discounted items and to get Christmas gift shopping done early.
This year, shoppers are encouraged to buy local and support businesses in their region that are doing it tough.
These local businesses often give back to their communities through sponsorship and other means of support.
Research from Monash University shows that 65 per cent of Australians will participate in an upcoming sales event, with 51 per cent of Australians choosing Black Friday and Cyber Monday as their peak times for purchasing.
In 2023, close to $8 billion is set to be spent across Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as shoppers hunt for bargains and try to overcome the rising costs of living.
Sharesies Australia country manager, Brendan Doggett said consumers should have a sales strategy before they start adding things to their shopping carts.
"While Black Friday is certainly a time for cost-conscious consumers to snag a bargain as we all feel the cost of living crunch, it's very easy to get carried away," he said.
"In fact, two-thirds of Aussies said they planned to take advantage of an upcoming sales event."
Brendan said it would pay to be prepared for Black Friday sales, and offered the following top tips for hitting the high street:
- Set your budget early and stick to it.
- Avoid buy now, pay later facilities and using credit cards if you cannot pay them off immediately.
- Identify your 'needs and wants' and 'quality over quantity' when considering a purchase.