Black Friday—many browsers, few buyers

By Joel Ceausu

Despite all the retailer hype and breathless media reports boosting shopping mayhem, Black Friday sales are not as big a deal for Canadians as most observers or merchants would have us believe.

A new DIG360-Ipsos report shows Black Friday awareness is entrenched in Canada—some 98 per cent of us know about it—but that does little to get us to pull out our wallets. Only a quarter of Canadians polled purchased Black Friday deals, down two per cent from last year and only nine per cent more than in 2010.

The average Canadian spent $295.80 on Black Friday purchases, with 52 per cent of Canadians spending between $101 and $500 during that period. Notably, this year Quebecers have caught up to the rest of Canada on awareness and participation, and B.C. residents had the lowest Black Friday participation at 39 per cent.

“We see this as a plateau in Canadian Black Friday,” says DIG360’s David Ian Gray, who says the data compiled from online interviews of 1,005 Canadian adults earlier this month complements anecdotal reports that shoppers are not seeing the deals expected given the hype.

Males shopping for themselves

Moreover, while Canadian holiday shoppers continue to do the bulk of their shopping in Canadian bricks and mortar stores, more of us are shopping from online Canadian websites for Black Friday sales, 42 per cent  compared to 38 per cent last year. While stores remain dominant, there is a gradual decline of in-store shopping with an uptick on websites in both Canada and the United States.

While most don’t buy into Black Friday hype, 13 per cent delayed making their purchases this fall until they could see what the promotions offered. Also interesting to note, a full 54 per cent of men—versus 31 per cent of women—shopped Black Friday deals all or mostly for themselves.

The study also found that even with a declining Canadian dollar, cross border shopping was consistent or even slightly up in the November-December season, with almost a third of Canadians, 31 per cent, buying or planning to buy something cross-border online or in-store. (Only 19 per cent of Quebecers have or expect to cross-border shop this year.)

Analysts feel the lack of overall growth for Black Friday could be a harbinger of a flat holiday period overall.
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