Bargains abound as retailers start discounting early

By Poppy Johnston
Updated November 17 2023 - 1:00pm, first published 12:59pm
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale period is now the biggest four days on the retail calendar. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale period is now the biggest four days on the retail calendar. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

Two in five retailers have already started slashing prices to entice in cautious consumers ahead of the cyber weekend sales.

The four-week discounting period kicks off next Friday, but National Retail Association director Rob Godwin says retailers are already offering deep discounts ahead of what's tipped to be a flat festive period.

"There's an awful lot of stock available and retailers are being super aggressive," Mr Godwin told AAP.

The industry body estimates around 40 per cent of retailers have already started their discounting cycle.

"It's shaping up as very much a buyers' Christmas, with great deals already available for those who get in early," he said.

A notable 10 per cent of the entire festive season spend is expected to take place during the four-day Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

The discounting period, which began in the United States to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday, has been embraced by Australian consumers.

It's now the biggest four days on the retail calendar, with discounting now spilling over into either side of the event and sales stretching over six or eight weeks.

In recent years, consumers have been taking advantage of the discounting period to get a head start on their Christmas spending, but the financial burden of higher interest rates and cost of living pressures is expected to intensify the phenomenon.

Transactions data released by two major banks this week pointed to a softer month for consumer spending in October.

National Australia Bank chief economist Alan Oster said the sluggish October numbers suggested some consumers may be waiting until the sales period gets into full swing in November.

"Households remain under pressure and we will be watching closely to see how spending evolves, especially given the recent rise in interest rates and the resilience of inflation," he said.

Surveying by comparison firm Compare the Market ahead of the sales found Australians would be most focused on cheaper clothes, electronics, shoes and beauty products.

One in five were most interested in clothing sales, and another 20 per cent would be chasing marked down electronics.

The sales event may have started in the online sphere but Mr Godwin said retailers had extended it into bricks and mortar as well, with some using the period to clear excess end-of-line stock.

Though he said some retailers were actually manufacturing bespoke products to sell throughout the sales event and into the Christmas rush.

Given the financial pressure on households, the industry body is anticipating a flat $63 billion spend between now and the end of December - representing little-to-no growth compared with last year.

Australian Associated Press