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How Black was your Friday?

Canadian shopping habits are changing right before our eyes – more like our American neighbours.

Until a few years ago, Black Friday was just an American phenomenon. The day after US Thanksgiving was the their equivalent to Boxing Day; malls wooed shoppers who had spent the previous day overindulging with family they may or may not enjoy – and so their wallets opened up.

Though Canadians did not have the same hype and emotional urge to spend, many living near the border would cross down into the US hoping to score some deals. Starting in 2008, when the Canadian dollar was hovering around parity, some Canadian stores started to offer Black Friday sales of their own to try and keep shoppers in the country. Since then, the day has been gaining popularity north of the border, now outpacing Boxing Day as a Canadian shopping occasion.

A recent survey from the Retail Council of Canada shows that 43 per cent of Canadian consumers said they planned to spend on Black Friday (up from 40 per cent in 2018) compared to 34 per cent who plan to shop on Boxing Day. On average, we are also spending more: Canadians said they planned to spend $792 this year, up from $675 in 2018.

Even small boutiques and online shops are getting in on the action, sending out email newsletters and putting up Instagram posts advertising both Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts.

According to statistics from Finder, men are more likely to shop sales then women, 90 per cent compared to 85 per cent. Surprisingly, young people are spending more than older generations: Generation Z is expected to spend $2,000 during this holiday season; Generation Y will spend around half that, $1,015; Generation X $918; and baby boomers $710.

Since the mid-1990s Adbusters and various environmental and anti-capitalism activists have pushed for “Buy Nothing Day,” on the same day as the American shopping holiday. When it comes to buying for ourselves, thrift shopping may be gaining traction, but secondhand shopping hasn’t gained much traction in gifting. While you might buy secondhand sweaters and jeans for yourself, your mother-in-law is a different story.

Every year, spending goes up while the average consumer debt continues to grow. We are now outpacing the US for debt to income ratio. That’s a problem we cannot spend our way out of, no matter how good the deal.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]


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