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

Residents welcomed to The Summit in Victoria’s Quadra Village

Modern 320-bed facility designed for people with complex care needs including dementia

Saanich bans municipal rodenticide use after owl deaths

District unanimously approves ban and community education

Victoria Rotarians gift $10,000 for special mattresses at Broadmead Care

Residents will enjoy new pressure release mattresses at Broadmead Veterans Memorial Lodge

Victoria council looks to address systemic racism

Motion put forward calling on police to end street checks

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read