Black Friday, the phenomenon that once belonged solely to the US, is now a consumer holiday that has gone global, spreading to Canada and Europe. According to Shopify, UK merchants saw an increase of 46% in sales across the weekend vs. their average day online. Unsurprisingly, Black Friday sales in 2016 surpassed Boxing Day sales in malls across the Greater Toronto Area. Although not as chaotic as it may be in the States, the momentum for Black Friday has taken off elsewhere in the last few years.
The unofficial kickoff to the holiday season is not only prevalent in the GTA. A survey done by market research company L’Observateur found that the percentage of Quebecers who took advantage of this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Sunday sales jumped by 20% over the previous year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also popular topics on Canadian social media, with a combined 28,000 mentions over the weekend, according to Salesforce.
At Best Buy Canada in downtown Toronto, two dozen shoppers lined up before its opening time at 6am on Black Friday. If you were brave enough to physically participate in the mass holiday shopping, you most likely spent a substantial amount of time in the parking lot, trying to snag yourself any spot available. However, there was a slight decrease in the amount of foot traffic in US malls this year. It fell less than 1% when compared to Black Friday 2016, so shopping centres were only slightly emptier this year.
On the flipside, there was an influx in online shopping in 2017. According to data from Adobe Digital Insights, American shoppers spent a whopping $5 billion in 24 hours. That’s a 16.9% increase in dollars compared to last year. Retail giant Amazon had orders coming in at record levels; more than 200,000 toys were sold in the first five hours on Black Friday.
Amazon was one of the top sellers over the weekend, announcing that Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day worldwide for the company, surpassing even Amazon Prime Day. However, Amazon did not release sales figure for Cyber Monday as per the usual, but said customers bought “hundreds of millions” of products during the long weekend. Small business owners rejoiced as 140 million of those items were bought from small business sellers on the site.
Retailers also noticed an uptick in mobile shopping this year. US mobile sales broke records by reaching $2 billion. Retailer apps and mobile wallet services make it much easier to shop on your phone. In fact, 75% of millennials are more likely to shop on their smartphones rather than on computers according to Adobe Analytics Data. Shopify merchants such as Tesla Motors and Kylie Cosmetics saw mobile sales dominate over desktop sales for the first time this year. Orders from the Amazon App increased by 50% compared to last year.
How do you know if a product is worth it? According to Wallet Hub, you’re getting a good deal if the item is discounted by at least 37%, the item rarely goes on sale, or is hard to find.
If you don’t embrace the physical hustle and bustle of Black Friday, you can always catch the sales online, or wait until Cyber Monday for a more collected and comfy way to jumpstart your holiday shopping. Either way, no matter how big the shift to mobile and online shopping, there will always be a crowd in the malls who enjoy hunting for bargains.
Helen Jacob | The Edge Blog