By: Caitie Mcrae

Given the money spent on gas, accommodation and the shopping itself, are Black Friday shoppers still getting deals?
Bill Garbarino, a business marketing professor at Algonquin, believes so.

“They should create a vacation experience to go around it,” Garbarino said. “It’s certainly going to overshadow the extra hundred bucks they might pay for gas in a day trip, because of the depths of the deals that they won’t see in Canada and the Canadian dollar being at parity.”

Garbarino also explains that it’d be wise for Canadians to do the bulk of their Christmas shopping that weekend, saying “It’s the official start of the retail Christmas season. Most retailers are launching their holiday bundles and sales at this time.”

And don’t think Canadians are wedging themselves into a shopping phenomenon intended for Americans. The retail market of our southern neighbours has a method to its madness. Garbarino explained “The retailers are trying to pull that Canadian crowd in—that’s exactly how they’re pitching it: ‘Come on down, enjoy a mini holiday, enjoy your travel experience’”.

For those Canadian shoppers kicking themselves for missing out on the deals, fret no more. What started out as a single day sale over 20 years ago, Black Friday’s deals now extend across the entire Christmas season. Call it “Black Three Weeks.”

“Since this is the best deal of the season, once that pushes over, (stores) will ratchet up their prices and do a final push in the week or two before Christmas to keep the momentum going,” Garbarino said.

Canadian retailers such as Future Shop and London Drugs have hopped onto the Black Friday bandwagon, slashing prices and introducing new products in order to reap the same benefits of their American counterparts.

Although Canada’s version of Black Friday has historically been Boxing Day, the day after Christmas is more of a means to an end for Canadian retailers, as they look to unload excess inventory no longer needed. Compared to Black Friday, whose deals cover the hub of the holiday season, Boxing Day seems to miss the mark; savings accounts have already been emptied and Christmas presents already bought. Garbarino said that’s why the enticing deals of Black Friday are starting to waft across the border.

“I think more and more Canadian retailers will start to do Black Friday sales. It won’t be to the same extent as it is in the States, because there isn’t the ability to wrap it around [Thanksgiving], but it’ll continue.”

Women’s Wear Daily did a crowd study of nearly 500 American Black Friday consumers, revealing that 57 per cent were in it for the experience. Garbarino said experience is the most valuable commodity, for both shoppers and retailers.
“The catalyst of being able to go down, make a weekend of it and having an exciting experience is launching the Christmas season and will continue to do so.”