Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadians embrace retail frenzy

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TORONTO -- Canadian spending grew 23 per cent on Cyber Monday and 6.5 per cent on Black Friday this year over last, pointing to the growing popularity of two of the busiest shopping days in the U.S. north of the border.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been popular shopping days with our neighbours south of the border for years," said Malcolm Fowler, vice-president of marketing at Moneris Solutions, the debit and credit card processor that released the report.

"Thanks to the unprecedented number of Canadian merchants and consumers who embraced them this year, these two shopping days are becoming a mainstay in Canada."

The report, which provides a snapshot of consumer spending activity in Canada by analyzing credit and debit card transaction data, found the specialty retail category saw the largest increase, 15 per cent, in dollars spend on Black Friday.

Within that category, radios, televisions and stereos were the most popular choices, with spending up 22 per cent.

Clothing sales rose 13 per cent compared to the day last year.

Apparel sales led the way on Cyber Monday, with spending growth up 77 per cent, followed by specialty retail, with 45 per cent growth. And online shoe sales skyrocketed 112 per cent compared to 2011.

Experts say the burgeoning weekend-long holiday sales event could soon surpass Boxing Day as the busiest shopping period of the year.

For years, both events were largely U.S. phenomena that had Canadians who wanted to participate visiting American websites or making cross-border trips on the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which marks the start of the crucial holiday shopping season when retailers turn profits, or go "into the black."

Cyber Monday emerged as shoppers wanting to continue their Black Friday spree logged in on home computers as well as at work the following Monday.

A combination of factors -- U.S. competitors setting up shop in Canada, Canadian retailers trying to keep sales local, Canadians' shifting shopping habits and tight-fisted consumers with shaky confidence in the economy -- are helping to establish the events on Canadian soil.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 B8

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