Black Friday

Black Friday Shopping: Ready, Set, Go

November 10, 2016

By Sheryl Smolkin

Traditionally in the U.S., the Friday after Thanksgiving (the fourth Friday in November) is the kick off for the Christmas shopping season. However, over the last several years many Canadian retailers have jumped on the bandwagon, offering competitive deals.

In fact, data from Consolidated Credit and Moneris based on the 2014 Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend show that shoppers in Saskatchewan spent the most, with the average credit or debit transaction ringing in at $140.81. Alberta was a close second, charging an average of $126.41 to plastic.

According to a 2015 survey by Accenture, Canadian consumers perceive Black Friday to be the day with the best deals (37%), followed by Boxing Day (25%) and Cyber Monday (11 per cent). However, more shoppers say they plan to shop on Boxing Day (64%) than Black Friday (60%). Cyber Monday still hasn’t fully caught on with Canadian shoppers, with only 31% saying they plan to shop on the first Monday after U.S. Thanksgiving.

Twenty-seven percent said they would travel to the U.S. to shop, compared to 24% in 2014. Thirty-one percent of shoppers cited the weak Canadian dollar as their reason for staying put to shop this year.

Whether you plan to shop online or in person, here are some hints to get the best Black Friday deals:

  1. Make a list: Just like you make a grocery list before you go shopping, think about what you are really looking for before you sit down in front of your computer or get up at the crack of dawn to stand in line at the nearest big box store. 
  2. Pre-shop: A deal is only a deal if you really need the item and the price is actually lower than any other day of the week. Price clothing, small electronics and other products in advance so you know whether or not specials offered actually represent good value.
  3. Free shipping: If you are shopping online, check out how much the shipping charges are before you press the button to buy the items in your shopping cart. In Who’s offering free shipping this Black Friday? the website Shopbot predicts which bricks and mortar stores will likely offer free shipping based on whether or not they did last year.
  4. Keep your receipts: The pair of shoes or winter coat you bought after standing in line may not be such a great fit once you get them home. Make sure you understand the return policy and keep your receipts in case items have to go back.
  5. Timing: Online Black Friday sales often start at midnight on Thursday EST. If you are in Saskatchewan, that’s an hour earlier. Grab your cup of coffee and stay up late to be first in line to get the loss leader deals.
  6. Create an account: If there is a site you know you will want to buy from, create an account earlier in the week. That way you won’t waste precious time filling out forms and lose coveted items that are in limited supply. 
  7. Cross-border shopping: If you plan to brave the lines and head south to do your Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping, don’t forget to use the calculator or currency exchange app on your phone. When you take the soft Canadian dollar into consideration, what looks like a great deal may not be.

Also see:

Who’s offering free shipping this Black Friday?

Nov 16: Best from the blogosphere

November 16, 2015

By Sheryl Smolkin

Most of the time when I sit down at my computer to write the weekly Best from the Blogosphere post I have absolutely no idea what the theme will be until I read a few articles from other bloggers that send me off on a tangent.

Such was the case this week when the first message in my inbox was from Robb Engen at Boomer and Echo writing about Mischief Managed: How I Went From Credit Card Abuser To Rewards Card Master. He says optimizing credit spending means using one card for groceries and gas, one for dining and entertainment, one for travel and one for everything else. Last year he used six credit cards to earn over $1,500 worth of rewards.

In 2012 Carla Wintersgill wrote in the Toronto Star about How travel hackers maximize loyalty points. She reports on the inventive way American author Chris Guillebeau collected points through the United States Mint. For a year and a half, it was possible to buy U.S. dollar coins directly from the Mint, which included free shipping. Over the course of a few months, he bought $70,000 in coins using a points-collecting credit card and then re-deposited the coins in the bank to pay his bill.

With Black Friday and Christmas on the horizon, reader may be interested in the Top 5 tips for maximizing miles on your holiday shopping by Patrick Sojka at Rewards Canada. He suggests double or triple dipping to rack up your points faster. This basically involves your mileage earning credit card being used for a purchase where you also earn miles in the same program as the credit card. For example, pay for your Air Canada flight with a TD Aeroplan Visa or American express.

When you use travel rewards, at some point you may be juggling way more credit cards than the average consumer. Even with a really good system to ensure that you have paid your cards in full each month, at some point something may slip through the cracks. On Frugal Travel Guy, Caroline Lupini explains How to Get Credit Card Late Fees Refunded and Interest Charges Reversed at least once, but it is important not to make a habit of missing payments.

In a guest post on the Canadian Finance Blog, How to Get the Best Value from Air Miles Rewards, Retire Happy blogger Jim Yih explains how he exchanged 15,850 Air Miles for six flights from Edmonton to Ottawa that saved him $2475.99. He calculates that he is getting about one Air Mile for every dollar spent and his equivalent cash back is about 1.67% over the longer time frame. He also endorses double-dipping and believes that with a little more conscious effort and awareness he can get the reward up to a 2% cash back equivalent.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.