A Christmas miracle? Desperate Canadian retailers see hope in Black Friday numbers

Black Friday looked a little brighter this year.

And for retailers desperate for a good holiday season after nearly two years of struggling with closures and other COVID restrictions, it could be a sign of good to come.

According to data released by Moneris, the nation’s largest payment processor, there were roughly 10 percent more transactions on Black Friday this year in Canada compared to 2020.

The company processed a total of 22.8 million transactions last Friday, compared to 20 million on Black Friday last year. They reached a peak of 600 transactions per second at 3:40 p.m. Friday, compared to a peak of 550 per second last year.

“Everything seems to be good news. It seems that people are starting to revert to their pre-COVID spending patterns. And we anticipate it will continue through the holidays, ”said Jordan Williamson, director of strategy and product development at Moneris.

A busy holiday season is vital for retailers that have been struggling to survive, said analyst Lisa Hutcheson.

“Getting shoppers back to their physical stores is the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Hutcheson, managing partner at retail consultancy JC Williams Group. “Each and every retailer needs a good holiday season.”

Even in non-COVID times, the holiday season is where many retailers make or break their year, said Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada.

“For some retailers, November and December may represent 40 percent of their revenue for the year,” he said, adding that while store owners are beginning to see customers return, some are still hampered by problems of the supply chain and problems attracting workers. .

“They are not done yet,” said Wasylyshen, who, however, said that it is not all doom and gloom, and pointed to an RCC survey that showed Canadians planned to spend an average of $ 792 on holiday shopping this year, compared to $ 792. 693 in 2020..

“Customers want to hit the stores, they plan to spend more, and customer finances are in better shape this year. Those are all reasons to be optimistic, ”Wasylyshen said.

The evidence from Black Friday, the first big shopping day of the season, seems to confirm this.

The top category was household goods, with 1.6 million transactions. While those products have been being sold like gang members the entire time during the pandemic, Williamson suspects there is a difference now, as people prepare to entertain friends and family in a way that they couldn’t last year.

“There’s probably a little bit of the home improvement spending that we saw during COVID, but I think it’s more that people want to make sure everything is ready for the holidays,” Williamson said.

And while a large portion of the transactions took place online, Hutcheson said the rumor is back in brick-and-mortar stores.

“People want to get into the spirit of the season and shopping is part of it. People want to get back to normal, ”said Hutcheson, who came out of his office attached to the Eaton Center on Friday and watched. “It wasn’t your typical Black Friday, but it was the most shoulder-to-shoulder shopping I’ve seen in a long time.”

At Toronto-based retail chain Mastermind Toys, third-quarter sales were up 25 percent compared to the same period last year and 30 percent from 2019, according to an email from the CEO of the company, Sarah Jordan. The next quarter is shaping up to be even better, he said.

“As of last week, our fourth quarter results to date are up 20% compared to 2020 and 60% compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Jordan said, adding that the company tried to get ahead of itself. to supply chain problems when ordering a vacation inventory. up to two months earlier than usual.

Still, the joy was not universal.

“On Black Friday, do you know how many clients we had here? Four, ”said Paolo Iacullo, who runs the Italian menswear boutique Capo Salerno with his wife Nadine Devereux-Iacullo.

After a small rally in the late summer and early fall, Iacullo said, business is down again. He’s not optimistic about having the kind of busy holiday season he had before the pandemic.

“We only have four weeks until Christmas. And people are getting nervous again about this new variant of COVID, ”Iacullo said, referring to Omicron, a variant that the World Health Organization declared a worrying variant last week.

Tops in stores?

According to Google, these were the top trending searches in each product category in Canada, heading to Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday:

  • Toys Lego Dots – Small dots and flat pieces allow for even more detail and customization than traditional mini-bricks from one of the world’s best-known toy brands.
  • Wear North Face Jacket: It must be a blow to Canada Goose to see North Face as the most sought after garment. But given that Canada Goose often sells for hundreds of dollars more than North Face, it might not come as much of a surprise.
  • Consumer electronics Bose Soundbar: While video game consoles or the latest new phone are often the most sought-after electronics, this time it’s a high-end soundbar. Do people still enjoy life at home, perhaps?
  • Beauty products: Perfume – Whether it’s the main event or a little fragrant sock filler, this one just produces good scents.
  • Exercise equipment Peloton treadmill: They’ve already bypassed the stationary bike category. Is Peloton now doing the same with the old treadmill?

  • Home appliances: Dehumidifier: No, that’s not a typo. While furnaces that explode for the winter can dry out the air inside your home, we’re apparently looking for ways to make things even drier.


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