Dianna Logiodice travelled from Morwell to the CBD on Thursday to help her niece Isabella Vartuli shop for a new dress to wear to a wedding. It was the first time the pair had visited the CBD since August.
“I like to see what it looks like,” said Ms Vartuli, 19. “I don’t want to spend too much on something that doesn’t look good and then have to go through the hassle of returning it.”
Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham said while online sales had levelled out following the reopening of bricks and mortar stores, he expected Black Friday/Cyber Monday online sales to eclipse last year’s event.
“We are in good shape for it, but obviously every day is a new day that we have to step up and deliver,” he said.
In a bid to keep up with unprecedented parcel volumes, Australia Post will open a new facility in Botany, NSW, on Friday that can process 100,000 parcels a day, as well as a new parcel facility in Tullamarine, Victoria, which is starting to process up to 380,000 parcels a day.
Daniel Agostinelli, the chief executive of footwear retailer Accent Group, said he had hoped to see more sales activity on the first day of the trading extravaganza, but was still expecting a big weekend as customers opt to buy in-person.
“We think that will continue right into Christmas,” he said. “People just seem to want to get out.”
However, he warned that the offers at his stores – which include Platypus, Hype and Sketchers – would not be as strong as last year given the supply chain crunch putting stock at a premium.
“We haven’t had to go as deep as we did last year to clear products,” he said. “We’ve taken our foot off the pedal, and we’d rather really promote full price as best as we can through this period.”
Mr Agostinelli also expects stores to be busy over the weekend
Caleb Brown, the chief executive of Clarks and Superdry operator Brand Collective, agreed, saying he expected more shoppers in store to avoid shipping delays.
“There would be very few people in Australia that haven’t experienced some frustrations in shipping delays,” he said. “For people that definitely want to have goods in their hot hands for Christmas, I think they will come into store and secure what they can.”
Sandy Sahabandu enjoys online shopping but doesn’t like waiting for her purchases to arrive in the mail. “It takes forever,” the 35-year-old said.
Ms Sahabandu, who is set to travel to the US next week to visit family and urgently needed new warm clothes, visited the city on Thursday for a spot of shopping. While she paid full price for new jackets at Zara, she hoped to snap up some bargains at other city retailers.
Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the Black Friday sales, which had originated in the United States to tie in with the Thanksgiving holiday, had become a global phenomenon embraced by Australian retailers.
“The event is renowned for having the biggest retail bargains pre-Christmas and it’s gaining in popularity every year,” he said.
“Black Friday spending in Australia last year was 50 per cent higher than the year before.”
He said computers, appliances, games, toys, clothing and cosmetics were expected to be among the most popular purchases during the Black Friday sales. But as foot traffic has built up in physical stores, so too has customer aggression.
“We are asking customers to be patient and respectful to the retail teams who are keen to make this shopping experience safe and enjoyable,” he said.
Fascinating answers to perplexing questions delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up to get our new Explainer newsletter here.