The momentum builds long before the biggest month of retail sale in years

There were folding camp chairs, milk crates and sleeping bags set up under cloudy skies outside Sydney’s flagship Apple store days before the launch of the iPhone X.
Nanjing Night Net

The die-hard tech fans camping out on George Street for the latest iPhone are usually a source of amusement for pedestrians passing by on their way to work.

But it’s serious business: the ceaseless demand for iPhones and other electronic gadgets buoyed the Australian retail market in November, the biggest monthly jump in four years.

Vijay from Sydney’s city Telstra shop said it all: “iPhones never disappoint.”

It was no surprise to him or other electronics retailers that sales of the iPhone X was one reason for the nudge in November, a month when the Google Home gadget and the Xbox One X were also launched.

Vijay, who asked his surname not be published, said the store starts seeing demand for new gadgets three months before they even go on sale.

The Black Friday sale on November 24 also boosted retail figures, with internet search analytics company Hitwise recording more than 40 million visits to retail and classified websites on that day.

There were 39.2 million visits on Cyber Monday, and online auction site eBay, classified site Gumtree and Amazon were the three most popular sites for shoppers across that sales period.

The most sought after products on eBay on Black Friday included Xbox One, Playstation 4, laptops, iPads, Nintendo Switch, headphones, and drones.

The Australian Retailers’ Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said other spending in other categories increased year-on-year in November, including a 6.7 per cent boost for cafes and restaurants, and 2.1 per cent in clothing and accessories.

Clothing retailers such as ASOS and The Iconic tapped into their huge social media followings and email subscriber lists for the Black Friday sales, offering discounts as big as 30 per cent off almost every product.

Other popular online shopping destinations during Black Friday included Bonds, who offered a ‘Buy two get one free’ deal, while Cotton On had huge markdowns.

Some smaller retailers, like Melbourne’s shoe company Radical Yes, issued their dedicated subscribers with codes to unlock online discounts.

Booktopia offered as much as 90 per cent off thousands of books for the Black Friday sales, as well as 25 per cent off bestsellers. The ARA had predicted physical and eBooks to be a driver of the $7 million “other retailing” category before Christmas.

The growth of delivery services, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, were behind a 4.4 per cent year-on-year increase in the restaurant and take-away sector in November, Mr Zimmerman said.

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