Canadian Black Friday, Shopping Trends Analysis

by Brian Field on 11-17-17

Canadian retailers, fear not! This year, ShopperTrak conducted an in-depth analysis of Canadian Black Friday retail traffic to better understand consumer shopping behavior across the country.

Overall, we know that shopping behavior during the holidays in Canada is distinctly different than it is in the U.S. Specifically, the busiest shopping day across all of Canada is Boxing Day (this is based on data from 2014, 2015 and 2016). For readers south of the border, Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas. It is a statutory holiday in Canada, and while the shopping phenomenon isn’t nearly as prominent in the U.S., we know it to be a pivotal shopping day in various countries across Europe.

At the same time, Canadians have adopted the American shopping bonanza that is Black Friday. We know this because Canadian Black Friday traffic shows that the day has been the second busiest shopping day across all of Canada for the last three years. And based on our data, Canadian Black Friday is growing increasingly important across Canada. For example, traffic on Boxing Day 2014 was 39% greater than Black Friday 2014, and by 2016, the gap closed to +10% for the country. But before we dub Black Friday as the day that will soon pass Boxing Day as Canada’s busiest shopping day, it’s important to narrow our analysis down to individual provinces.

When looking at brick-and-mortar traffic in Ontario, we found that Boxing Day remains the busiest day by a wide margin. And yet Black Friday has emerged as the busiest holiday shopping day in Quebec since 2015.

Physical retailers will want to pay close attention to this evolution. Rather than overemphasizing Boxing Day, successful retailers will prepare for a significant number of shoppers on both dates, ensuring stores are staffed, stocked and ready.

Further, due to the current exchange rates, Canadian shoppers are much less compelled to hop the border, while U.S. shoppers will be more willing to cross over, and so this creates greater opportunity for Canadian malls and retailers to capitalize on sales opportunities.

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Brian Field is the Senior Director of Retail Consulting Practice for ShopperTrak, where he oversees the application of ShopperTrak's proprietary solutions to retailer-specific issues across different functional areas in order to drive top and bottom line store performance. Prior to joining ShopperTrak, Brian served in roles of increasing responsibility at Chico’s FAS Inc., including as the director of corporate store operations and finance. Brian has spent nearly four decades in the industry, and his experience includes: store sales and management, training, merchandising, strategic planning and analysis for brands as diverse as David’s Bridal, Circuit City and Macy's.