Black Friday is no longer a unique event observed only in the United States. And Business Improvement Areas in Toronto are encouraging shoppers to forego the malls and big box retailers and shop locally.
You can expect a busy shopping day Friday, Nov. 25, otherwise known as Black Friday, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. Parkdale Village BIA executive director Anna Bartula said Black Friday is the kick off holiday shopping season for many people, a day filled with retail deals, and one that is also full of line-ups, parking headaches and jostling in shops.
“My survival tip is to shop within your local community, because that’s where you’re going to find no line-ups and you’re not going to get that overwhelming bustle of a shopping centre where you are fighting for parking, lining up to eat, trying to find a bathroom, waiting in line to get into large shops,” she said.
That sentiment is echoed by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, which encourages shoppers to visit their local market. When Black Friday retail deals arrived in Canada a few years ago, it was the Canadian retailers’ response to the deals shoppers were increasingly finding online and south of the border as a way to re-capture those shoppers. Now, it has fully blown into a Canadian shopping day.
Toronto’s BIAs launched their Shop Local campaign a few years ago on Black Friday weekend, trying to capture those same shoppers with their own deals.
For some retailers, particularly the larger chain stores, the day has even surpassed Boxing Day, Bartula said. That’s even evident at Metroland Media Toronto, which last year delivered 20 million flyers the week of Black Friday, while delivering 15.6 million flyers leading up to Boxing Day. Black Friday flyer deliver had surpassed Boxing Day some years before.
While Black Friday may have surpassed Boxing Day, Bartula said the two days offer different opportunities for shoppers. “Boxing Day is the day I go out and get a mattress,” she said. “On Black Friday or Shop Local weekend, it’s gift-giving, that’s certainly on the majority of people’s minds.”
Black Friday began in the United States as the shopping day after Thanksgiving, much like Canada’s Boxing Day, according to Schulich School of Business marketing professor Detlev Zwick. Thanksgiving is often a bigger holiday than Christmas in the U.S. because it is a four-day holiday and Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday like it is in Canada. “Black Friday has become a globalized phenomenon,” he said. “For example, I was watching Russian television and they have ads for Black Friday there. There is no Thanksgiving in Russia.”
Each year, more and more countries embrace Black Friday and the ease of shopping online has fuelled the shopping event even further.
While one may think a sale event like Black Friday would increase the number of dollars spent on holiday gifts as people prepare for December, that’s not necessarily the case, Zwick added. Essentially, having such a large event means holiday shopping dollars is concentrated on one day rather than spread out over a longer period of time. Many shoppers set finite holiday shopping budgets, meaning the amount of money spent on Black Friday merchandise will determine how much retailers spend throughout December leading up to Christmas.