Line-ups at Canada-U.S. border crossings cam be long

Retailers aim to keep Black Friday shoppers in Canada

Area businesses experiment with initiatives to encourage consumers to spend their cash at home.

The name might lack colour, but as Black Friday approaches, retailers will be pulling out all shades of promotional glitz as they vie for consumer attention.

Black Friday is the Friday following the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the U.S., and it is regarded as the unofficial kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

Traditionally, eager Canadian shoppers have prepared for long waits at the border seeking cheap U.S. deals in preparation for Christmas.

This annual exodus of patrons and their money means a significant dip in sales for businesses north of the parallel, with this Nov. 29 being no exception.

However, in reaction to the southbound surge, local retailers are increasingly taking their own measures to keep Canadians shopping at home.

“Ultimately [lowering prices] keeps people here,” says Tim Wagner, owner and operator of Soccer West in White Rock.

“It’s pretty hard to get the individual to see the loyalty in keeping your dollars local. Bottom line, it comes down to what they can save.”

Wagner will be running the store’s second official Black Friday sale after getting positive response last year. He says people remembered the sale and have been asking about it again.

Following up on that success, Wagner is promoting his deals more this year, hoping the event will help drive more customers to Soccer West.

But Bob Krider, a professor of marketing at SFU’s Beedie School of Business warns, “if you’re going to offer big discounts, you’ve got to get an increase in demand to compensate, because otherwise you’re going to lose money.”

The expert on competition dynamics and consumer biases says he’s not sure if Canadian businesses can go head-to-head with Black Friday. If they want to try, he adds, they’ll have to make the deals look as exciting as their American counterparts do.

And as Anita Huberman, executive director at the Surrey Board of Trade notes, Canadian and U.S. retailers “are not playing on a level competitive field.”

The variety of products and much lower prices across the border combined with the soft economy add up to people still willing to wait in line at the Peace Arch border crossing, Huberman says.

“I think throughout the year, we need to have a much more consistent approach to marketing,” she says.

“It’s about thinking innovatively around how to get that consumer in the door, but also to keep them coming back. And in the end it’s all about service.”

One person who believes strongly in customer service is Brent Bondarenko, co-owner of Kitchen Therapy, a kitchen product retailer in Grandview Corners just minutes by car from the U.S. border.

“We’re a store that’s incredibly personable,” says Bondarenko. “We understand what it is to give exemplary customer service, which we don’t do on a Black Friday [specifically]. We do it all year round.”

Bondarenko keeps his staff motivated to be helpful and listen to patrons, focusing on repeat customers through relationship building. Kitchen Therapy participates in supplier promotions instead, foregoing Black Friday and similar calendar events, he says.

Other businesses see the U.S. shopping occasion as an opportunity.

Central City Shopping Centre has added a sidewalk sale that runs more than a week, ending the Sunday after Black Friday.

“If we have something exciting happening in our own backyard then more shoppers will say ‘Yeah, we’ll take advantage of that,’” says Bill Rempel, vice-president and general manager of Blackwood Partners, the company managing the mall.

The sidewalk sale is a hit with both his tenants and their customers, says Rempel. And big stores like Best Buy and The Brick will use the event as a chance to promote their upcoming Boxing Day sales.

While it remains to be seen if the various retailer initiatives will slow the stream of shoppers going south, they will certainly make for a more colourful Black Friday in Canada this year.

 

Just Posted

White Rock couple to donate blood 325th time, collectively

Anne Friendly will make her 175th donation, while her husband Kevin Klop will donate his 150th time

South Surrey mothers to launch CBD-infused water product

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

4-year-old child injured in Surrey after falling out window

Child fell out of third-storey window, expected to fully recover

City of White Rock hosts official pier reopening

Event included ribbon-cutting, speeches, live music

Surrey school district to allow students to miss class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

Hiker rescued after spending night on Crown Mountain

North Shore Rescue spotted the woman by helicopter over Hanes Valley

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Vancouver Giants complete weekend sweep of Cougars

Back-to-back road trip victories for Langley-based team

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Westbound crash on Highway 1 in Langley causing extreme traffic delays

Collision occured just after Glover Road, cars backed up all the way to 264th Street

Most Read