Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadians buy into Black Friday: survey

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TORONTO -- The Canadian holiday shopping season is looking decidedly more American this year as retailers schedule a rush of Black Friday events in hopes consumers will shop at home, rather than head south of the border.

Whether it's extended hours at some of the country's busiest malls or door-crasher events and heavy markdowns, most big-name retailers have hopped on the Black Friday bandwagon with the fanfare once reserved for the Boxing Day holiday.

A CIBC (TSX:CM) poll conducted by Harris/Decima being released today suggests nearly one in 10 of the 1,000 Canadian survey respondents plans on making a purchase during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period -- suggesting millions of Canadians will be shopping for holiday deals this weekend.

Black Friday is timed to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and has become a tradition for many families who gather for dinner, then wake up early the next morning to take advantage of deep discounts.

The day serves to kick off the holiday shopping season -- the time when retailers turn a profit, or go "into the black" -- and is widely considered the busiest shopping day of the year.

It may just be a random November day for Canadians, but shoppers north of the border are increasingly buying into Black Friday and the Monday after, which has come to be known as Cyber Monday because it's when online retailers tend to hold their sales.

Many Canadian retailers have jumped on the trend as a new way to angle a promotion, said Mark Satov, founder of management consulting firm Satov Consultants Inc. "Some retailers are feeling there's a lot of dead time between Halloween and Christmas," he said. "If you're advertising a general event, you're creating the impression that everything is on sale, and when consumers get there, everything doesn't have to be on sale but they're there anyway, so they're going to buy."

Promotional campaigns will be splashed across store windows and in flyers across the country this week, with retailers from Gap Inc. to PetSmart hopping aboard the trend to offer extended hours and sales.

Other retailers appear to share that enthusiasm, including the Bay, which angled a mid-November sale as "Black Friday arrives early" -- even though it was nearly a week and a half before U.S. Thanksgiving. Some retailers will stretch out Black Friday nearly as long, such as The Body Shop which is promoting sales that last for a week.

But Canada's version of Black Friday won't be everything it's hyped to be, some suggest.

"It's a myth," says retail consultant Jim Danahy of CustomerLAB, which works with companies in all categories including drug, department, food and specialty retailers. "Stores are not bringing merchandise in any sooner than they were before. They are not changing their promotional calendars. It is simply the super-imposition of a term that exists in the United States here."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 19, 2012 B6

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