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Black Friday takes bite out of Christmas holiday sales

Black Friday retail sales could be changing the shopping habits of consumers ahead of traditional pre-Christmas and Boxing Day holiday sales.

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill International said strong Black Friday weekend trading in November appeared to bring forward holiday sales, with a "meaningful" lift in overall November foot traffic and sales.

November was a big shopping month for retailers in all sectors, with China's 11 November Singles' Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

"While the shift in consumer behaviour saw a significant uplift in November sales in all markets, our sales in early December were somewhat disappointing," Chief executive Daniel Bracken said.

"Pressure on gross margin continued in all markets, with deep-discounting from many competitors."

The Australian-based retailer, which also operated in New Zealand and Canada, said all countries delivered positive sales growth in the first half and second quarter ended 31 December.

Australia's same store sales increased by 1.6 percent for the quarter, but the company said Christmas trade was challenging with deep and enduring discounting.

New Zealand's same store sales increased by 5 percent for the quarter and was Michael Hill's most productive market.

Canada's same store sales rose 1.4 percent for the quarter, following a strong performance the year earlier.

The company said the Canadian business presented further opportunity for growth, with investment in training, personnel and logistics.

"There is a real air of enthusiasm across the business with a focus on delivery of initiatives that continue into the second half," Bracken said.

Official numbers show sales using electronic cards fell a seasonally-adjusted 0.8 percent compared with a 2.9 pct rise in November.

The largest fall was for sales of durable goods, such as furniture, hardware, appliances, and sports and recreational goods, down 2.5 percent.

"The dip in durables comes on the back of a very strong November month," Stats NZ retail manager Sue Chapman said.

They were the types of goods heavily discounted and promoted in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in November.

There were slight rises in spending on food, drink and groceries.

Actual sales hit $7 billion for the first time, with sales 4 percent ahead of last year.

The electronic card sales numbers cover about two-thirds of retail activity.

Rising house values, wages, and low interest rates have been credited with lifting consumer confidence and retail spending.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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