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Can Canada make Black Friday Its Own?

Oct. 17, 2013
Black Friday, Shopping
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Ah, Black Friday. Right after eating too much turkey, baking pumpkin pie, and watching football, it’s America’s favorite part of the Thanksgiving weekend. Shoppers devotedly camp out, all hoping to be the first to rush in as stores open their doors in the wee hours of… Thursday night.

Every year, Americans score crazy good deals before returning home to eat leftovers and watch more football. Black Friday in the US has become such an extreme shopping day we’ve grown accustomed to hearing stories of outrageous, even dangerous, mob behavior. In Canada, however, Black Friday isn’t much of a thing at all.

Can’t have a Black Friday without the Friday

 It might surprise many Americans to know that just north of the border Black Friday isn’t much of a thing at all. The fourth Friday in November is a day many Americans get off or take off from work, so it’s natural that American retailers got the idea to take advantage of the 4-day weekend that comes so close to Christmas. In Canada, however, that Friday is just another workday. There’s no mass day off for retailers to exploit.

Canada does recognize a Thanksgiving holiday, but it comes in October and falls on a Monday. While Canadians get to spend a three-day weekend with friends and family, they don’t get that extra day we in the US expect because our holiday lands on Thursday. Plus, their holiday is before Halloween, which is long before Christmas shopping is on most people’s radar. As a result, they don’t get the frenzied shopping day we in the US take for granted.

 Canada’s alternatives to Black Friday

In past years, busloads of savvy shoppers have made the trek down from the Great White North to American shopping malls. While Canadian shoppers have been able to take advantage of Black Friday deals over the Internet or through trips across the border. A recent survey revealed that Canadians don’t believe they get the same deals as their neighbors to the south and wish they could enjoy a version of Black Friday centered on their own Thanksgiving. For their part, Canadian retailers wouldn’t mind keeping Canadian shoppers (and their money) in the country. Translating Black Friday-style deals to Canada just might be a winning idea for everyone (except maybe American stores close to the border).

In the past few years, Canadian retailers have started trying to translate Black Friday shopping to Canadian stores. Boxing Day (December 26) has traditionally been the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada, but Black Friday, and it’s accompanying Cyber Monday, are catching up. While Black Friday deals may take hold in Canada, the frenzied early-morning shopping stampede might be another story, especially if the stereotype of Canadians being, well, nicer than Americans has any truth.

A new approach in Canada

This fall, Sears Canada announced their intention to introduce Canada’s very own Black Friday. Beginning on Friday, October 11 and running through the 17th, Sears Canada offered the kind of deals the retailer has typically offered in the States after Thanksgiving. Sears Canada solved the dilemma of when to start the sales tied to a Monday holiday by choosing the Friday before Thanksgiving. We’re still awaiting word on how the weeklong promotion went for the store.

Final Word

If Canada’s Black Friday experimentation goes well, will other stores follow the lead and offer special promotions and sales around Canadian Thanksgiving? Only time will tell, but whether deals come in October or around the American November holiday, it seems clear that Black Friday fever is spreading across Canada. Though maybe it’ll be a kinder, gentler version.