Black Friday is the Friday following the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, but Canadians continue to get in on the action as it is regarded as the unofficial kick-off to the holiday shopping season.
A recent study predicts residents north of the border will spend billions of dollars buying goods stateside this coming weekend.
Many non-retail employees and schools in the United States have both Thanksgiving and the day after (Friday) off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. With retailers offering incentives to increase sales both in-store and online, it has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005 south of the border, and has become increasingly popular among Canadians.
The annual exodus of patrons and their money means a significant dip in sales for businesses north of the parallel, with this Nov. 28 being no exception.
While shopping for sales in Washington and online on Black Friday is attractive to those living in Surrey and surrounding communities, the increasing number of shoppers crossing the border or buying from American retailers online has in impact at home.
“Workers take time off or maybe even call in sick in the hopes of landing a great shopping deal, it means lost productivity in the workplace,” said Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman. “The economic impact for local businesses is significant as Surrey is a border city – and like all other border cities across Canada, consumers are taking their spending dollars outside of our economy.
“This results in lower sales for local businesses, and lost economic dollars that are translated into infrastructure investment and charity contributions at home.”
According to a recent study by one marketing firm (IPG Media Brands), 24 per cent of Canadian Black Friday shoppers will cross the border and spend $1.6 billion buying up stateside deals. And Canadians will spend up to $3.4 billion on U.S. websites on so-called “Cyber Monday.”
Acknowledging that lower prices are more effective than appealing to patriotism, local businesses have been battling for years to entice shoppers to buy at home, with some success.
“Local businesses, specifically retailers and malls, have been doing a much better job in terms of starting early on Black Friday sales, promotions,” said Huberman. “Guildford (Town Centre) is a good example. Local/Canadian stores and online shopping sites are ready now more than in the past for an influx of traffic targeted towards bargain hunters.”
Currently, the loonie is at a five-year low when compared to the U.S. dollar, but Huberman said the thought of lower prices will trump the exchange rate.
“Waiting in line at the border may deter some consumers,” she said. “Different spending habits may occur if items are more expensive across the border, but the perception and brand of Black Friday is that the variety of goods and the pricing deals have become a cultural habit for consumers.”