The $6.2b sale Aussies are obsessed with
SHOPPING addicts are preparing to give their credit cards a serious workout with one of the biggest sales events of the year now only days away.
Black Friday kicks off on Friday, November 29, marking the official start of the Christmas shopping season.
But what is the Black Friday phenomenon - and how can you make sure you bag the best bargains?
Black Friday is the name given to the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the US that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
For decades now, that date has been considered the official start of the holiday retail season, and over the years, retailers started holding in-store sales to mark the event.
But as the trend of online shopping took hold, Black Friday sales also started popping up on e-retail sites, and today it has become one of the biggest online shopping events of the year.
It is followed by Cyber Monday three days later, which means the sales actually stretch on for many days of savings.
HOW BIG IS IT?
According to Adobe Analytics - which tracks transactions for the top US retailers - a staggering $US6.22 billion in online sales was made during last year's Black Friday sale.
It was a considerable jump from $US5.03 billion in 2017, with Aussies spending a total of $200 million that year.
And according to PayPal's 2019 mCommerce: Trends Report, Black Friday is now the third most popular sales period in Australia after Boxing Day and end of financial year sales.
The report revealed Black Friday was most popular with Gen Z and Gen Y.
Meanwhile, a YouGov survey commissioned by point-of-sale software company Vend found it wasn't just the big-name retailers cashing in, with independent retailers earning an average of $3082 last Black Friday, representing 144 per cent of the daily estimate for independent retailers last year.
WHAT CAN YOU BUY?
In a nutshell, anything - because Black Friday is huge across all categories from tech gadgets and home entertainment to beauty, travel, fashion, homewares and everything in between.
Most major retailers will have serious deals available, with eBay, The Good Guys, David Jones, Lorna Jane, Amazon, catch.com.au, JB Hi-Fi, ASOS and Myer just some of countless companies jumping on the bandwagon.
According to PayPal Australia shopping expert Dan Grant, the growing popularity of online sales also offers cybercriminals the opportunity to "capitalise on the distraction caused by the chaotic rush for the best deal".
"Christmas shopping is already incredibly hectic, and the last thing you need is to get ripped
off or deal with a cyberattack," he said.
He urged shoppers to stick to safe and secure websites with web addresses that begin with https:// and include a padlock icon.
Other tips include avoiding unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, doing your research and reading reviews beforehand to avoid ending up with a dud, and using secure payment providers.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard also warned Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers to be wary of fake websites with dodgy online stores as well as fake sellers who may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites during this period.
So far in 2019, reported losses from online shopping scams are more than $4 million, eclipsing 2018's $3.28 million.
"Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales," Ms Rickard said.
"Reported losses have tripled over the last three years, and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high."
According to Shannon Ingrey, APAC vice president and general manager at BigCommerce, Black Friday is a crucial period for retailers - and can't be ignored.
"It's become a significant marker for consumers - many of whom are choosing to bring forward their Christmas shopping to November," he said.
"For Aussie online retailers, it's an opportunity to capitalise on the larger-than-usual audience, forge consumer relationships and stand out from the crowd.
"Given the level of competition that online retailers will face on Friday, it's crucial that the customer journey is as personalised and streamlined as possible. Figures from last year show a cart abandonment rate of 67.15 per cent in Australia. Anything less than seamless shopping experiences may see consumers abandoning their purchases and turning elsewhere."
And Stacey Fisher, co-founder of online retailer Minnow Designs, urged fellow retailers to make the most of the sales opportunity by offering legitimate deals of at least 30 per cent or more off to "cut through the clutter" and stand out.
Ms Fisher also said it was important to offer incentives to increase basket size, plan the logistics and extend an offer to wholesale customers as well.
While some experts believe this Black Friday will be the biggest yet, the news is not entirely positive, with Deloitte's annual Christmas Retailers' Survey report revealing positive sentiment is down regarding Christmas trading.
It found just 62 per cent of retailers expected to see higher sales this Christmas compared with last year, while just under 40 per cent were expecting to see some form of Christmas period margin decrease, and 39 per cent would be discounting pre-Christmas to help drive sales.
However, digital continues to be a standout, with 58 per cent expecting growth of 10 per cent or more in online Christmas sales.
And new research from CouriersPlease has found 66 per cent of Aussies who have shopped during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are increasing the volume of their orders each year, with 75 per cent claiming the sales are getting better.