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Black Friday by the numbers

Ashleigh Patterson
Why We Love Black Friday, According to Science

Canadians are no longer stomping their feet and bemoaning annual Boxing Day sales as a day-late, dollar-short time-waster. We've now got alternatives: Cross-border bargain hunters are gassing up their vehicles and strategically planning their shopping excursions in an act of optimism to lock in savings now.

Statisticians and retailers are taking note, flooding editor in-boxes with surveys upon surveys of Canadian shopping habits come Nov. 24. Get ready for the U.S. Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza. It starts on Black Friday ('black' because stores use the deep discounts to get into the black, or profit, for the year) and ends on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day on the calendar. And while it was once just a U.S.-based bash, now it's big on both sides of the border.

How big? Well, here are the numbers:

  • 40 per cent of Canadians will participate in sales on one of those days, spending roughly $245 each, according a study commissioned by Staples Canada.
  • Atlantic Canadians (14 per cent) and Ontarians (13 per cent) are among the most likely to scour for savings on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, according to a CIBC/Harris Decima poll.
  • Thanks to expanded duty-free limits, Canadians can now take back $200 worth of merchandise from the U.S. For those willing to stay between two and seven days, you can fill your boots with $800 worth of goods.
  • What are Canadians purchasing? Clothing and accessories remain the most popular purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, followed by music or movies, books or e-books, toys, health and beauty products, computers and/or computer accessories and other electronics, according to a Visa Canada survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.
Percentage of Canada online shoppers who intend to shop at American websites over Black Friday weekend
National 44%
British Columbia 34%
Prairie provinces 46%
Ontario 50%
Quebec 42%
Atlantic Canada 38%

Holiday shopping

The surveys and analysis of Canadian retail habits don't stop for the late-November sales bonanza.

  • Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians say they spend more than planned during the holidays, while 59 per cent fall prey to impulse buys, according to mobile carrier Mobilicity. The worst culprits? Women and people with kids present the greatest risk of a "holiday shopping hangover."
  • Canadians are expected to spend $1,182 on holiday gift giving, decorations, entertainment and travel this year, which is a 6 per cent drop from last year, according to RBC's Consumer Outlook.
  • As we become more tech-savvy, we're taking our buying power online. Forty-five per cent of Canadians will purchase gifts via their smart phone, tablet or PC, says eBay. Why? Convenience, avoidance of in-store hassles, an attempt to save time and save money were cited as the popular reasons drawing shoppers away from the stores.