Although traditionally an American event, Black Friday has been adopted into Canadian culture and now surpasses Boxing Day as the most popular shopping event among Canadians. According to the Retail Council of Canada's (RCC) second annual Holiday Shopping Survey, 43% of Canadian shoppers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, compared to the 34% who plan to buy on Boxing Day. What’s more, the RCC survey indicates that half of the people planning to shop Black Friday will do it in-store compared to online (36%) or on their mobile (15 per cent).
With a global pandemic happening, the landscape of this massive shopping event has changed.
For those businesses that will be open, many are struggling with the question of how they can manage Black Friday during a pandemic.
Although stores have been encouraging people to shop Cyber Monday online sales, retailers are strategizing how to meet the needs of Black Friday crowds while maintaining COVID-19 protocols.
Retailers need a seamlessly integrated omni-channel offering just to survive right now, and they must remain agile in the face of ongoing uncertainty in the future. In Winnipeg, many businesses are closed to the public, with the exception of big box stores deemed essential.
What’s the answer? Three weeks of Black Friday deals, according to many companies. Several big box stores started Black Friday deals prior to Remembrance Day—a big no-no in the eyes of many Canadians. The extended timeline also removes the sense of urgency created by previous Black Fridays, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
How can small businesses that rely on the holiday season and Black Friday sales survive the “essential” competition while being closed to the public? For one, shopping local avoids inevitable shipping delays since many small businesses are offering local delivery and curbside pickup—something they should promote aggressively. In addition, small businesses could use a promotional discount for those who share their purchases on social media, which can help influence other networks and increase repeat buying later on.
Whatever happens, we’ll be shopping locally for Black Friday and the holidays. Share your favourite Canadian small businesses with us on social and we’ll be sure to check them out!