Small retailers plan to party till they profit to lure shoppers from big malls during holidaysThis Nov. 18, 2013, photo, shows Leigh's, an upscale independent clothing retail in Grand Rapids, Mich. Leigh's plans five parties including one Black Friday and another aimed at men shopping for wives and girlfriends. (AP Photo/Adam Bird)
The biggest shopping day of the year is almost here — and Black Friday isn’t just for Americans anymore.
So called because it’s the day when retail stores have enough sales to put them “in the black”, Black Friday (this Friday, Nov. 29) always takes place the day after U.S. Thanksgiving. And Canadians are looking to score savings by joining in on their neighbour-to-the-south’s tradition.
Cross-border shopping will more than double this U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, with 14 per cent of Canadians expected to do the trip compared to 6 per cent in 2011, according to a UPS Canada survey conducted by Leger Marketing. The number of Canadians who plan on purchasing items online from U.S. retailers has nearly doubled over the last three years, up to 24 per cent this year from 13 per cent in 2011.
Those living out west are most likely to engage in cross-border shopping, with 28 per cent of B.C. residents being the most likely to Christmas gifts in the U.S., the UPS survey found.
“Despite Canada’s ultra-competitive retail market, sales, pricing and ecommerce innovations continue to drive Canadian consumers south of the border,” Jim Bena, UPS Canada’s vice-president of marketing, said in a release.
This year Wal-mart has decided to get a jump on Black Friday by launching its long-weekend sale on U.S. Thanksgiving itself, a move that’s sure to trigger a price war.
There are also discounts to be had on Cyber Monday, a term coined by the National Retail Federation to provide online retailers the chance to match Black Friday’s traditional brick-and-mortar shopping frenzy. For the last three years, Cyber Monday has ranked as the top online shopping day of the year, according to comSocre, an internet technology company. Online shoppers are expected to spend US$2.27 billion this Cyber Monday, up 15 percent from 2012, the Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast stated.
Several Canadian retailers are having their own Black Friday sales, with ShopBot.ca, a price-comparison site, saying that more and more shoppers are transitioning away from Boxing Day to this pre-Christmas period to find deals. Retailers participating in its one-day Black Friday sale include Mexx, SportChek, and Staples.
Meanwhile, Sears, Home Depot, Lowe’s, the Brick, PetSmart, and Danier are among other Canadian chains that will be slashing prices, according to RedFlagDeals.ca.
Other Canadian stores are following the U.S. lead of early-bird hours. Ivanhoé Cambridge, which owns and operates shopping centres across Canada, is seeing all of its Ontario malls open at 7 a.m. on Friday; so are some in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. (The malls are also asking for clothing donations for charity). Some of the stores are throwing in gift bags and gift cards to the first 200 shoppers.
So what exactly can Canadian consumers expect? Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other giants are selling popular items at discounts of 30 per cent or more off their regular price, and retailers plan to sell laptops, HDTVs, and other products at several hundred dollars off. Some of the products with the biggest markdowns include:
video game consoles
and small appliances
What not to buy? Winter clothing, holiday decorations won’t be on sale now since they’re in hot demand, and things like tools are typically marked down around Father’s Day.
For those considering a trip down south, be sure to research prices first. If retailers like Canadian Tire, Sears Canada, The Bay, Indigo, Best Buy, Target, and Future Shop have price-match programs in place, see if they will match the U.S. price. Keep in mind, though, that even with Canada jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon, you may well still find greater savings in the States with the price gap, which is about 10 to 15 per cent and could be even higher on certain big-ticket items.