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Black Friday Goes Digital, But What Does It Mean For Oz Retailers

Preliminary data from RetailNext, an in-store analytics firm, shows that foot-traffic for retail outlets over Black Friday fell 11% while in-store sales dropped 10%.

The data correlates nicely with the numbers provided by Adobe Systems Inc, which show online spending for the holiday rose 18% to $5.27 billion, and suggest that online shopping giants like Amazon are cannibalizing on the retail sales of the pre-Christmas sales period.

This spike in e-commerce continued well past Black Friday itself, with Ray Harjen, a RetailNext spokesman, noting it is “easier to shop from one’s couch than to fight one’s way through the mall.”

Amazon ranked #1 when it came to online sales traffic over the Black Friday weekend, with Wal-Mart following in second place.

The explosion in online sales follows on from 2015’s Black Friday, when online sales officially surpassed retail ones for the holiday sale event.

Mr. Antonio Nieves, chief operating and financial officer for Bonobos Inc, said mobile shopping had jumped more than expected before Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day.

“You have a lot of people who are mobile for the weekend while traveling,” Nieves said.

Overall, mobile phones accounted for 55% of website traffic on Black Friday, and 36% of sales.

Wal-Mart says that 60% of Black Friday online orders came through mobile devices.

Adobe‘s data says that “retailers saw an increase in sales coming through Shopper Helper Sites like RetailMeNot and CNET (16.5 percent share of sales), email (17.8 percent), display (1.2 percent) and social (0.9 percent). Traffic coming from search ads (38.3 percent) decreased by 4.3 percent from holiday averages while direct traffic (25.3 percent) decreased by 9.6 percent, although both remained the largest contributors to overall sales.”

They also found that “The five top selling electronic products on Black Friday were Apple iPads, Samsung 4k TVs, Apple MacBook Air, LG TVs and Microsoft Xbox.”

That trend could leave Amazon in a prime position once it finally expands into the Australian market.

Australian customers have long taken advantage of the US’ pre-Christmas sales tradition, and this year’s Black Friday saw many local fast fashion retailers adopt the tradition.

However, if the trend favoring online shopping continues to sap at the spectacle of the sales event Amazon’s entry into the market could carry even more impact than expected.

That said, it’s unknown as of yet how the introduction of a goods and service tax (GST) on foreign businesses that sell in Australia online will affect this trend.

The government-backed tax change could very much prove an equalizer for local retail chains looking to compete with the bargains offered by online outlets.