Once upon a time, there was the Black Friday retail madness in the United States following American Thanksgiving Day. And north of the border, Canadians took advantage of massive price discounts four weeks later on Boxing Day.
But as more and more Canadians started crossing the border on Black Friday in the 21st century, local retailers began fighting back with their own late-November sales.
“Most Canadian retailers and malls are fully into the Black Friday campaign now,” retail consultant Peter Hume told the Georgia Straight by phone. “It’s probably the biggest retail event now on the map.”
On West 4th Avenue, outdoor-sports and apparel shops such as Comor and Pacific Boarder will offer 60 percent off on Friday (November 25). Farther west up the street, Patagonia has pledged to donate 100 percent of its Black Friday sales to support initiatives to address climate change.
As part of the Kitsilano West 4th Avenue Business Association’s Kitsmas promotion, there is going to be valet parking on West 4th Avenue Thursday through Saturday from November 24 through the holiday season.
“We’re also going to be offering them hot chocolate, gift cards, gifts on the streets, and if they use the hashtag Kitsmas, they can win a $500 shopping spree,” Kitsmas co-organizer Zara Durrani told the Straight earlier this month prior to a fashion show at Savoie Clothing.
This year, there are some good reasons to shop in town rather than travelling to Bellingham or Seattle. That's because the Canadian dollar fell more than a penny on U.S. election night and remains close to US$0.74.
“The Canadian-dollar discount definitely impacts online sales and cross-border shopping,” Hume noted. “As importantly, Canadian retailers have stepped up to do their own significant retail campaigns and marketing, targeting customers here.”
Examples include the Vancouver-based fashion retailer Aritzia, Vancouver-based cookware store Ming Wo, and Richmond-based London Drugs. Mark Startup, vice president in the Vancouver office of the Retail Council of Canada, told the Straight by phone that consumers see Black Friday and Cyber Monday (November 28) as a “several-day omnichannel event” for buying goods at very low prices before Christmas.
“A weak dollar has all but pretty much stopped physical cross-border shopping,” Startup said.
According to LOCO B.C., spending $100 at a local business results in $46 being recirculated through the local economy. And a one-percent increase in domestic consumer spending translates into an additional 3,100 B.C. jobs and $94 million in annual wages going to B.C. workers.
Business associations plan to drive this point home from Cyber Monday until December 4.
“We are encouraging all of our businesses to pass out information about what it does to the local economy when people buy from local companies,” Aila Karpio of the Point Grey Village Business Improvement Association told the Straight by phone. “So we’ve distributed signs and stickers and posters and postcards that people can give to customers and thank them for their business.”