VIDEO: Shoppers head out Black Friday instead of Boxing Day in search of holiday gifts

Interac Corp. recorded four-per-cent jumps in debit transactions on Black Friday for the past three years

Canadian shoppers craving a deal increasingly turn to Black Friday — a sales bonanza imported from America, where retailers long slashed prices the day after their Thanksgiving holiday — at the expense of another sales spree, Boxing Day.

The shift comes as consumers increasingly plan to spend before Christmas and check gifts off their holiday lists, industry watchers say, and the change offers retailers a slight edge.

“(Black Friday) is fulfilling an unmet need,” said Michael Leblanc, a senior retail adviser with the Retail Council of Canada, an advocacy group. It gives consumers the chance to secure deals on presents rather than shop after the gift-giving season is over.

Forty-three per cent of respondents to the group’s second annual holiday shopping survey planned to purchase items on Black Friday — up from 40 per cent the previous year. Only 34 per cent of respondents intended to shop on Boxing Day.

A survey by Deloitte Canada showed a similar disenchantment with the Dec. 26 sales day. Only one out of three respondents wanted to shop during the stretched out, week-long event. The same number said the earlier Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales changed their habits for Boxing Day.

Spending figures from previous years suggest this shifting consumer sentiment is ongoing.

Canadians made six per cent more debit transactions on last year’s Black Friday than in 2017, according to data from payment processor Moneris. Black Friday also earned the title of biggest shopping day of the year for transaction volume.

Meanwhile, Boxing Day growth slowed in 2018, and the Friday and Saturday before Christmas surpassed it in transactions and dollars spent, the company said.

READ MORE: There were 96,000 crashes in B.C. parking lots in 2018, ICBC says

The shopping day “has dropped significantly in popularity with consumers,” Moneris said.

Interac Corp. recorded jumps in debit transactions on Black Friday of more than four per cent for the past three years, while the total amount spent rose steadily as well. Its yearly growth in both categories for Boxing Day was higher, but the overall number of Interac debit transactions and the total volume of spending are about half of those seen on Black Friday.

Consumers choose the pre-holiday sales because they want to buy gifts at a good price, said Leblanc, which the timing of Boxing Day doesn’t offer.

The retail council found 77 per cent of Canadians’ holiday budgets dedicated to gifts — with the remainder for personal purchases.

It also helps that Black Friday sales have expanded beyond those considered go-to categories for Boxing Day discounts, like appliances and apparel, said Leblanc. Airlines, car dealerships, home decor and improvement chains, phone companies and others now advertise deals for the unofficial kickoff of the holiday spending season.

“It feels like it’s evolved to be everything.”

It’s not likely that merchants hurt over the changing momentum, said Marty Weintraub, a partner and national retail practice leader at Deloitte Canada.

“A lot of it is just shifting sales from one period to a different period,” he said, but having the sale earlier in the year “does give retailers a slight advantage.”

Consumers often try to set a budget for holiday spending, he said, and may have more available funds before the holidays, as well as more energy to shop.

It’s also better for retailers to make sales earlier rather than engage in massive markdowns in an attempt to rid themselves of inventory they didn’t sell during the holidays, he said, which is what Boxing Day has traditionally been about.

“That’s not the best game to play,” Weintraub said.

Those weary of pressure to offer more discounts on Black Friday can participate in ways other than sales, added Leblanc.

“Not all retailers necessarily need to go down the heavy discounting route,” he said.

PHOTOS: Black Friday frenzy goes global – and not everyone’s happy

Shops can bring in special products to launch on Black Friday, for example, when they’re likely to see increased foot and online traffic.

And, it seems, retailers would be smart to join the marketing effort in some form.

Weintraub anticipates Black Friday will continue to see growth at the expense of Boxing Day for some time to come.

“I don’t think we’ve hit the peak yet.”

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Golden Food Bank looks for community support heading into summer

The food bank will be looking to keep momentum going from a succesful holiday season

Kicking Horse conditions update, Friday February 21

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Friday February 21

Watch for slippery sections between Quartz Creek Bridge and the western boundary… Continue reading

Moberly based Northern Silica to close doors

The layoffs come just a month after a temporary layoff over the holidays in December

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read