Watchdogs urge caution over Black Friday spending

A recent 2023 Black Friday Report found that despite the cost-of-living crisis, New Zealanders...
A recent 2023 Black Friday Report found that despite the cost-of-living crisis, New Zealanders planned to spend 10 percent more on Black Friday this year than last. Photo: RNZ
It is expected to be the most expensive Black Friday yet next week and consumer watchdogs are urging customers to spend cautiously.

A recent 2023 Black Friday Report from price comparison website PriceSpy found that despite the cost-of-living crisis, New Zealanders planned to spend 10 percent more on Black Friday than last year - rising from $731 in 2022 to $806 in 2023.

The survey also found the price of goods had increased, with 80 percent of shopping categories more expensive in 2023 compared to 2022.

"The things that are going up more than ever are a lot of our consumer goods," said tech commentator Tim Provise. "Laptops are up, phones are up as well. Even things like Lego and toys have increased quite a lot over the last 12 months."

Other items expected to cost more this Black Friday were headphones, home security cameras and monitors.

"Whilst it's important to note that price points may be higher this year due to the wider impacts of the cost of living crisis and inflation, the discounts offered on Black Friday may still deliver better value opportunities for consumers compared to year-round prices," said Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand Country Manager for PriceSpy. "Especially as we enter the more-expensive month of December, when prices typically increase further."

Consumer New Zealand warned to do their research before they went shopping. Communications manager Jessica Walker recommended people check price comparison sites to make sure the deals on offer really were a steal.

"It will tell you how much that product is being sold for at different shops around the country, and it will also tell you what the price of those products has been over time. So that gives you a really good idea of the true value of a product as well as what is currently being sold for."

She also said people should be wary of buying a product just because it was expensive, with their testers finding the top-dollar product was not always the top performer.

"Top price doesn't necessarily mean top quality."

Head of financial wellbeing at Good Shepherd New Zealand, Natalie Vincent, urged people to only make purchases they had budgeted for.

She said while buying planned purchases on sale was a money-saver, impulse purchases that were out-of-budget came at a cost.

She believed many people would be using buy now, pay later schemes such as Afterpay - in order to nab some deals.

"They are interest-free if you can make those payments on time. If you can't, then you're at risk of getting charged default fees. So your very cheap Black Friday special, if you haven't prepared for that, if you haven't budgeted for it, could actually end up costing you a lot more than you were expecting."

Afterpay was not available for comment.

But LayBuy, which allowed people to buy a product in instalments, said they were expecting to see a rise during the sales season.

"We do tend to follow the retail cadence anyway," chief executive Gary Roloff said. "This is a big discounting period obviously, and people are doing a lot of their Christmas shopping earlier to take advantage of the deals. So yes, we would expect to be participating alongside that for sure."

Roloff said Laybuy prided itself on being a responsible credit provider.

Buy NZ Made execuitve director Dane Ambler said many small businesses relied on the Christmas trading period to survive.

"We just surveyed our small businesses and found that 64 percent are struggling with rising costs and a quarter aren't even sure if they're gonna make it through the next year."

Ambler said many were also facing more complex challenges now than they had during Covid.

"Instead of sending money overseas via big box retailers on Black Friday, I think we should really encourage consumers to support local brands and communities and really lift small business through the Christmas period."

He said they had set up a New Zealand Made Day on 21 November to counter Black Friday, encouraging people to shop local in the lead-up to Christmas.