Expectations were high going into the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend this year, with the National Retail Association predicting $5.3 billion in total retail spending, including $1.8 billion online. Just for context, last year, NAB was predicting $2.9 billion in total spending over the same weekend.  

Well, the data is in, and it was a record-breaking four days of shopping in Australia. Merchants on Shippit’s platform alone saw nearly twice as many orders as they did during the shopping event last year (up 86%). But before we get into the nitty-gritty of who bought what where let’s explore why Black Friday/Cyber Monday was so big this year. 

It should come as no surprise to hear that COVID-19 played a big role. While many people undoubtedly have reined in their shopping this year due to budget concerns, others have actually seen their finances improve, since they’ve been forced to curtail travel and other forms of entertainment, so they’ve been able to splurge on discretionary items. 

Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions also started earlier than usual this year (an attempt by retailers to reduce crowds in-store), which helped raise consumer awareness. And that is on top of the increased awareness the event has enjoyed in Australia in recent years. Together, this all contributed to a record-breaking year. 

By the numbers

Diving deeper into the numbers, Shippit merchants saw the biggest share of orders coming from Sydney (32%), followed by Melbourne (25%) and Brisbane (13%). More than a third of orders (nearly 37%) were in the clothing & apparel category, with houseware & home furnishing making up 11% of orders and cosmetics and toiletries nearly 10%. 

Looking at orders by delivery type reveals some interesting insights. Standard deliveries accounted for over 80% of orders in November 2020, a 7% increase from last year. Meanwhile, express deliveries accounted for over 17% of orders, a decrease of nearly 6%. Same-day delivery only represented 0.2% of orders, which is roughly equivalent to last year. 

One reason for the change in delivery type could be the fact that Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales were more spread out this year, so shoppers may have felt less pressure to make sure their orders arrived before Christmas. But another reason is likely the rise of click & collect as a fulfilment method. 

According to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers, 52% of shoppers said they planned to use click & collect over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. This is likely due to the growth of click & collect during the COVID-19 period as a whole.

Besides alleviating the delivery bottlenecks that tend to occur after major shopping events, click & collect is a major e-commerce driver. According to Salesforce, US-based store chains that offered curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup options increased their digital sales at a 26 per cent higher rate than retailers that didn’t provide these options during the first part of Cyber Week.

Australia vs the world

In terms of the gross merchandise value generated over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, Australia ranked third behind the US, which was first, and the UK, which was second. Behind Australia were Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Hong Kong, China, Germany and Japan. 

Looking at the average spend per order, however, Australia ranked second behind Japan. Aussie consumers spent US$105.50 on average per order, while Japanese consumers spent US$106.40 on average per order. In the US, shoppers spent US$92.80 on average per order, and in Canada, they spent US$103 on average per order. 

The rise of mobile

Another interesting statistic to note is the rise of mobile shopping. According to Adobe, which publishes an annual deep dive into online shopping on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, total spending via smartphone increased 25.3% to US$3.6 billion this year, although BigCommerce found that 43% of orders are made on smartphones, which is still behind desktops at 49%. 

Spending data shows that the concept of Black Friday/Cyber Monday is starting to shift from two specific events to one big event. According to BigCommerce, the fastest year-on-year growth in GMV was seen on the Thursday before Black Friday (84%), otherwise known as Thanksgiving, and the Sunday before Cyber Monday (86%). 

And finally, several news outlets have noted that there were no major website outages this year despite an enormous amount of online traffic on the shopping weekend. It’s a Christmas miracle!