Why Boxing Day sales fail to meet advertiser expectations

Why Boxing Day sales fail to meet advertiser expectations

02 December 2021 |

Media and Advertising Industry

I wondered this week about the death of Boxing Day sales following what looks to be another record Black Friday sales campaign. With Australians expecting to have exceeded another record $5.6 billion in sales, we now start planning for the Boxing Day period, wondering whether sales will again fail to meet expectations.

November sales surpass December, and Black Friday doubles Boxing Day

In the 2020 Boxing Day sales period Australians spent a touch over $3 billion. This year’s Black Friday sales have nearly doubled last year’s Boxing Day sales. It was only 2 years ago in 2019 when retail sales in the month of November (Black Friday month) surpassed sales for the month of December (pre-Xmas + Boxing Day), so it’s an even more extraordinary reflection on the success of Black Friday campaigns seeing that sales have more than doubled over a similar period.

Retailers focusing on the customer, not themselves

The Boxing Day sales tradition was largely born out of business self-interest. At the end of each year retailers are keen to prepare their businesses for the accounting stock take process post Xmas, to clear limited and outdated stock, and to prepare for the coming change of season.

From a consumer’s standpoint Boxing Day sales have been a worthwhile shopping tradition, but at a cost. Boxing Day sales traditionally require early starts in a race for the limited 20 TVs available, before being sold out by 8am. Boxing Day can be a frustrating experience with shelves cleared of the best stock and only Size 14 shoes being made available.

The Black Friday tradition on the other hand is largely born from consumer-focused motives. Born out of the US, the Black Friday bonanza occurs on the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend. A period when consumers prepare the switch from celebrating each other to celebrating the festival of Xmas shopping, and Black Friday is that spending starter’s pistol.

So we can make an obvious observation about the death of Boxing Day and the rise of Black Friday. The former was born out of the needs of corporate retailers whereas the latter is 100% focussed on the consumer. The shelves are fully stocked with every colour, every size, and an almost limitless supply. It’s no wonder that Black Friday has become the dominant sales period.

Boxing Day online almost irrelevant

Last year Boxing Day online sales accounted for just 1.5% of transactional value, or $45 million. This pales into insignificance when compared to Black Friday 2021 in which it’s expected that online will generate 36% of all sales. $2 billion will have been traded online. Boxing Day sales barely stack up in the digital world.

If we think about the purpose of Boxing Day, clearing stock, ridding retailers of unwanted stock that are unwanted sizes and unwanted colours, the online retailing value proposition to consumers becomes less attractive. Black Friday sales on the other hand offer sales on every stock item, every size, every colour, and with the added benefit of home delivery well before Xmas, with plenty of time to wrap presents under the Xmas tree.

The demise of Boxing Day sales is a reflection on its main purpose. Boxing Day retailers are inwardly focused on the retailer’s needs, whereas Black Friday retailers are solely focused on the customer.


Reach out to your ADMATICian for more info on planning for promotional periods.