Canadians have fully embraced Black Friday, a previously-American promotional event following Thanksgiving in that country. The internet can take most of the credit for its universal acceptance. Before online shopping was a common occurrence, Canadians usually travelled across the border to grab Black Friday deals but you probably wouldn’t find anything in Canada.
Then the internet granted everyone access to a global market, which left Canadian businesses competing with a world of products just a click away. In a clear case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” retailers started having Black Friday sales both online and in-store. The adoption of Black Friday grew to include Cyber Monday in both countries at about the same time.
The Business of Black Friday / Cyber Monday in Canada
We’ve gathered up some current Canadian data and statistics to help guide your sales & marketing teams through Black Friday promotions. We’ll update this post as more data becomes available.
Last year, Leger released a report with Canadian Black Friday statistics:
- 54% of Canadians surveyed participated (browsed or purchased) in Black Friday Promotions
- 34% bought items on sale for Black Friday
- 20% checked out Black Friday sales but didn’t find anything they wanted to purchase
- 46% didn’t participate in Black Friday Promotions at all
Just 2 percent of Canadians surveyed said they weren’t aware of Black Friday promotions. Forty-four percent knew about it, but chose not to browse or purchase during Black Friday sales.
- 84% of Canadian consumers browsed or purchased items from a store website during Black Friday sales
- 40% browsed or purchased via online marketplaces
- 35% chose to purchase from a local/independent retailer
How Much Did Canadians Spend During Black Friday?
Last year, online spending ($267) outpaced offline spending ($134) by a ratio of 2:1. While exceptional circumstances were created by the pandemic, online shopping is expected to maintain some of the momentum as Canadians become more comfortable with the option.
- 40% spent $100 or less online (70% offline)
- 20% spent $101-$200 online (13% offline)
- 20% spent $201-$400 online (9% offline)
- 15% spent $401-$1000 online (6% offline)
- 5% spent over $1000 online (2% offline)
Online vs. Offline
The reasons given by consumers for choosing to shop online over local are consistent with any other year. However, more Canadians discovered the benefits as the pandemic forced them out of their retail comfort zone.
- 75% of Canadians say they choose to shop online because the prices are higher offline.
- 61% say the offline selection is too limited
- 39% say the locations offline are too inconvenient
- 30% complain that there just aren’t enough locally sourced or manufactured products available.
- 23% say there aren’t enough ‘one stop shop’ retailers/marketplaces
Which Canadian Provinces Have More Black Friday Shoppers?
Provincially, the number of Canadians who shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are similar to national numbers. However, the amount spent on these deals varies somewhat.
- Manitoba & Saskatoon consumers spent about $441 ($239 online)
- Ontario shoppers spent $432 ($282 online)
- Alberta deal hunters spent $395 ($236 online)
- Quebec consumers spent around $389 ($284 online)
- British Columbians spent $347 ($269 online)
- Atlantic Canadians spent an estimated $341 ($194 online)
Supply Chain Issues
Supply chain issues will be present throughout the holiday season, and Black Friday / Cyber Monday will be no exception.
Both shoppers and retailers are most concerned about:
- General disruptions
- On-time delivery
- Higher prices
- Limited availability (sizes, colours, etc.)
- No availability for specific items
These concerns will urge Canadians to shop early, so make sure you’re ready for them.
Start NOW! The Early Bird Gets the Sale
The success of Black Friday / Cyber Monday often relies on digital marketing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a huge marketing budget. A big part of winning online is strategic, which can include anything from good timing to exceptional content.
For example, one study found when consumers receive promotional messages in September, they are three times more likely to buy products and services during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some verticals report even higher sales, including the fashion industry, which found their market is six times more likely to purchase if they’re approached earlier.
“With so many brands vying for consumers’ limited attention during this peak period, the most successful strategy to ensure that your brand is noticed is to start gradually building up that awareness and to form a relationship with the consumer over time,” suggests Elliott Clayton, Senior Vice President Media UK at Conversant.
Canadian consumers often object to anything resembling early holiday promotions, especially before Remembrance Day. The best way to avoid alienating them is to refrain from mentioning the holidays or using holiday images in your early Black Friday campaigns.
We’ve had much more success with a subtle approach:
- Feature gift items in Black Friday deals and focus on them when you advertise on social media.
- Begin your free or flat-rate shipping holiday campaigns.
- Tailor your blog content to gift shopping topics, such as product comparisons, reviews or guides.
- Rev up your email marketing without mentioning the holidays.
- Build digital sales funnels around online gift shopping without mentioning the holidays specifically. Thrive Themes Funnels is a budget-friendly tool for building highly profitable digital sales funnels.
With the uncertainty currently looming over the economy, Canadians will place more weight on price and look for deals online. That means Black Friday and Cyber Monday events have the potential to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Holiday sales and promotions (50%) and free shipping (49%) have the most influence on where Canadians will choose to shop.
It may not be as difficult to compete on price as you’d expect, because retailers have failed to offer the big deals they used to. In fact, last year only 10 percent of Canadians said they found an excellent deal. Forty-four percent complained they found only poor to mediocre deals.
Will your Canadian business run Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions in Canada this year? Please share your experience and questions in the comments below, or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.