While originally a US-based event, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now firmly entrenched in the Australian sales calendar, with huge discounts on offer that rival those found during more traditional sale events such as Boxing Day or EOFY.
But aside from the hype, just how many Aussies are planning to spend big during the sales – and what exactly are they looking for?
To find out, we surveyed more than 1000 Australians about their thoughts on the four-day shopping period (this year, Friday 26 November to Monday 29 November).
We also spent six months looking at the different types of sales or discounts that were on offer over a six-month period at 16 different online stores, to find out whether you need to wait for big events such as Black Friday to nab a discount.
Black Friday is a great time to bag a bargain, but don't get swept up in the hype.
Are Black Friday sales worth it?
Our survey found that almost all Australians (92%) have heard of the Black Friday sales, with just over half (52%) expressing an interest in buying something during this year's event.
And while the sales are getting more popular than ever – a record $5.4 billion is predicted to be spent instore and online this year – it seems not everyone is convinced that they're worth waiting for.
When we asked respondents whether they think the Black Friday sale offers better discounts than EOFY, Boxing Day or other sales held throughout the year, in each case less than one in three agreed (26%, 24% and 32% respectively), with many admitting that they don't know or neither agree or disagree.
Less than one in three respondents think the Black Friday sale offers better discounts than EOFY, Boxing Day or other sales events
"The results aren't surprising, given it's difficult for most of us to know exactly when an item you're interested in will go on sale, and just how big that discount will be," says CHOICE buyer, Sonja Scodeller.
"Although we have heard examples of people buying big-ticket items such as games consoles in the Black Friday sales, at a discount price that – nearly 12 months later – hasn't been beaten.
Overall, Sonja recommends not getting swept up in the Black Friday hype, and remember that you can get discounts year-round.
"Yes, there are huge discounts to be had in the Black Friday sales, but it might not be for the item you're after or, if it is, it might sell out before you've had a chance to buy it."
Our guide to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales has helpful hints on how to shop the sales but, as Sonja says, "At the end of the day, if you want a particular item and it's in your budget – just buy it."
'Black Friday' name polarising among Australians
We also asked about the appropriateness of the name due to its association with the Victorian bushfires of 13 January 1939 – also known as Black Friday – which claimed 36 lives. The results were polarising, with 32% agreeing the name is inappropriate, and 31% disagreeing.
Retailers often recommend people sign up to their mailing list to be the first to know of any sales or offers on their products.
We wanted to find out more about the number of sales that occur throughout the year and what sort of discounts can be found, so we signed up to the mailing list of 16 retailers: Appliances Online, Bing Lee, The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, David Jones, Myer, Cotton On, The Iconic, JB HiFi, Kogan, Country Road, Kmart, Target, Big W, Noni B and Peter Alexander.
What we found
In the six-month period from May to October 2021, we received 2452 marketing or sales emails (roughly 13 per day).
Of those, 1960 emails (81%) referenced a sale or some other discount, with offers ranging from as little as five percent to as much as 96% off.
81% of the marketing emails referenced a sale or some other discount, with offers ranging from as little as five percent to as much as 96% off
These deals were advertised in a variety of forms, such as percentage off, money off, cashback, two-for-one, price reductions (e.g. then vs now) and more. However, we found most deals only applied to select items or specific models and even when a sale was said to be 'store wide' there would often be exclusions.
Discounts not limited to traditional sales events
While most of us are familiar with Black Friday, EOFY and Boxing Day, you may not have to wait for those specific sales to get a good deal.
We found most retailers had numerous discount events in addition to the big-name sales periods – such as Click Frenzy sales, Afterpay Day sales, winter sales, flash sales, spring sales, Halloween sales, toymania sales, stocktake sales and many more.
"This goes to show you can nab a bargain any time of the year, not just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday," says Sonja. "If you're interested in a certain item, you might want to sign up to these mailing lists so you can be the first to know if and when it goes on sale."
Going, going… gone?
We also found several instances when a retailer would insist a sale ends at midnight on a particular night, only for it to continue the next day. Some retailers would also add an additional 10% or 20% off sale items towards the end of the discount event.
So if you can wait, you might get an even better deal than you thought – of course you also run the risk of it selling out.
"Ultimately, try not to let marketing and sales emails influence your decision-making process," says Sonja.
Roughly one in three respondents were interested in buying clothes or shoes in the sale.
What Aussies are looking to buy
We asked respondents what types of items they'd be interested in buying in this year's Black Friday sales. The three most popular categories were clothes and shoes, small kitchen appliances and TVs.
Here, our experts share their advice on shopping for these products in the sales.
Clothes and shoes
Most of us have been guilty of buying an outfit that doesn't really suit us because the price was too good to be left on the shelf. And maybe, once we get it home, it will miraculously transform into the perfect bargain buy with the right accessory?
"It's easy to get swept up in the high of getting a bargain, and fashion is so subjective you can sometimes convince yourself you love something simply because it's on sale," says Sonja. "Before you buy, stop to consider if it's something you truly want or need."
You should also try the items on instore, or compare your measurements to the information online to make sure you're buying the right size.
"Retailers are under no obligation to offer change-of-mind refunds if it's the wrong size or if you find it cheaper elsewhere," says Sonja.
Small kitchen appliances
"We've all spent a lot of time at home over the past two years, so our kitchen gadgets have been given more of a workout than normal and we may be looking for a replacement or upgrade," says CHOICE home economist Fiona Mair.
And if you haven't already jumped on the air fryer bandwagon, now might be the time to give it a try.
"I wouldn't be surprised if air fryers were a popular item in the Black Friday sales," says Fiona. "Despite its cult status, it's a novelty appliance, so if people have been holding off buying one, a huge sale might be the impetus they need."
Aside from reading our reviews and buying guides to find out which products to buy or avoid, Fiona recommends asking yourself how likely you are to use an appliance before you add it to a cart.
"I've tested over 3000 appliances at CHOICE and my biggest tip is to keep it simple," she says. "Make sure it's something that's going to actually help you in the kitchen, and consider how easy it's going to be to use and clean."
You can almost guarantee there will be great deals on TVs at many of the big-name retailers, particularly if you don't mind buying last year's model.
"If you want to know the difference between a 2021 or 2020 model – or whether it's even older, look at the product code," says CHOICE TV expert, Denis Gallagher. "This will tell you the year of release, as well as the size and specifications."
For more of Denis' tips on nabbing a bargain TV, read our guide to the buying a TV in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale.
CHOICE surveyed 1047 Australians between 9 and 23 June, 2021.
The data has been weighted to make sure it is representative of the Australian population according to the 2016 ABS Census data on age, state, sex, household income and education.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.