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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.