New research from ING reveals that 8.3 million Australians (41%) are planning to shop the sales, including an estimated 2.86 million (14%) who have never participated in them before.

The upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping long weekend (27 - 30 November) marks one of the biggest weeks in the shopping calendar, with the National Retail Association (NRA) expecting more than $5.3 billion to be spent over the long weekend, including $1.8 billion in online sales.

That's a projected 53% increase from 2019 when Aussies spent $3.4 billion.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said this year's sales and the Christmas period are particularly significant as the country recovers from its first recession in 29 years.

"It is the perfect opportunity for shoppers to support Australian retailers, make inroads into Christmas shopping and cash in on bargain prices," Ms Lamb said.

“We’re certainly hopeful that Christmas 2020 can break the back of the recession and set both retail and the economy on a course to recovery. 

'Retail has the second-largest workforce within the Australian economy, its importance can’t be overstated. Each dollar spent at the shops in the lead up to Christmas is helping keep businesses afloat and supporting jobs.”

According to ING's research, that's exactly what Aussies are planning to do.

A third (33%) of respondents say they are planning to buy from an Australian retailer while a quarter (25%) are using the sales as an opportunity to 'give back' to struggling local businesses. 

More than one in ten (13%) say they will only buy from local retailers and Australian businesses during the sales period.

Head of Daily Banking at ING Australia George Thompson said it has been a tough year for many local businesses.

“The global pandemic, devastating fires and havoc causing floods have paid their toll on many Australian businesses," he said. 

"It’s the Australian way to help out so it’s not surprising that Aussie shoppers are planning to support Australian businesses this year."

The research also found that over half of Aussies surveyed (58%) are planning to use the sales to save on costly calendar moments they're preparing for, like Christmas (48%), birthdays in 2021 (16%) and back to school items (13%). 

“Value for money matters more now than it has in a long time so it makes sense that so many Aussies are planning ahead and using the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to shop for gifts and important upcoming events," Mr Thompson said. 

One in three shoppers said they hope to make 30% or more in savings this year over the sales weekend, with many using the sales to shop for clothes (50%), Christmas gifts (48%), tech (43%), toys (23%) and travel (13%).

With COVID-19 impacting the way we shop, it's unsurprising that 30% of Aussies are planning to avoid the crowds and shop the sales online this year.

But Ms Lamb said physical stores can still expect to see much of the shopping hysteria.

“The growth in online sales has been accelerated by the pandemic, but we’re still expecting to see a lot of action in bricks and mortar stores," she said. 

"Digital purchases offer great convenience, but many consumers also crave a more wholesome shopping experience which can only be obtained in-store.”

ACCC warns Australians to look out for online scams

The amount of money lost to online shopping scams has spiked by 42% this year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

More than 12,000 online shopping scams were reported to Scamwatch this year, with almost $7 million in reported losses.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said scammers are now targeting people doing their Christmas shopping, including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

"Scammers create fake websites that look like genuine online stores, offering products at very low prices and victims will either receive a fake item or nothing at all," Ms Rickard said. 

“They also post fake ads on classified websites, often claiming they are travelling and someone else will deliver the goods, but the item never arrives and the victim can no longer contact the seller.”

Scams on websites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace have increased by 60% this year to $4.5 million. 

Ms Rickard outlined what shoppers should keep an eye out for when shopping the sales this year.

"Watch out for popular products being sold at prices much lower than on other websites and sellers requesting payment through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency,” she said.

“Take the time to consider who you are dealing with and don’t be pressured by special offers.

“Do your research by checking independent reviews of online stores or the seller’s history on classified websites.”

Another scam to be aware of if you have made recent purchases online is fake parcel delivery notifications via text message or email.

“Australia Post will never ask you to click a link to enter your personal details, nor will they ask for credit card details or a fee to deliver your packages,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.”

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash