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Canadian Black Friday shopping rate at all-time high: Angus Reid-DIG360 report

Despite high participation rate, shoppers were not impressed with the bargains on offer
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David Ian Gray's DIG360 has been tracking Black Friday in Canada since 2010

Canadians are shopping less this holiday season but more were involved in buying and perusing Black Friday deals than in past years, according to a new survey from DIG360 and the Angus Reid Group.

"The proportion of adult Canadians buying at least one Black Friday deal reached 49 per cent, the highest since DIG360 tracking began in 2010," DIG360 principal David Gray told BIV this morning. 

Gray started tracking Black Friday participation in 2010 because the shopping promotion was gaining traction in Canada. Decades ago, Canadians did not participate much in Black Friday shopping, as it was mostly an American phenomenon. 

Gray added that the survey's results were fairly consistent across the country, including in B.C.

"B.C. shoppers had a higher incidence of cross-border shopping," he said. 

The previous high-water mark for the percentage of Canadians buying Black Friday items was in 2015, when 44 per cent answered that they had bought products on sale during the promotion, according to Gray.

His survey also charted how many Canadians "participated," in the Black Friday season, which includes buying or browsing. It found 73 per cent of Canadians either browsed or bought products on sale in stores during Black Friday promotions. The previous high for that statistic was also in 2015, when 68 per cent of those surveyed said that they either browsed or bought Black Friday items.  

DIG360, which has partnered with different survey firms through the years for its surveys, did not conduct a survey in 2022.

Its 2021 survey found that only 54 per cent of those surveyed said that they either browsed or bought items on sale for Black Friday, while only 34 per cent actually made a purchase.

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Data from DIG360 and Angus Reid Group

Despite the high participation rate, which would seem to indicate high satisfaction with Black Friday, shoppers were not happy with the deals that they saw on Black Friday, according to the survey.

It found that 61 per cent of those surveyed believed that the promotions on offer were poor or mediocre. In past years less than half of those surveyed felt that way. Conversely, only four per cent of shoppers surveyed said that they found "great" deals. In past surveys more than double that percentage felt that there were "great" Black Friday deals.

Online sales continue to flourish, with 90 per cent of shoppers who bought items buying at least one item online, and 43 per cent of shoppers exclusively buying online.

"This has been consistent and gradual since 2017," Gray said. "More notable is the drop in physical-store deal buying. In 2018, 80 per cent of Canadian deal-buyers purchased at least once in-store, with 18 per cent only using stores. In 2023, 53 per cent made at least once store purchase and only nine per cent exclusively used that channel."

The survey's outlook for the holiday season conforms with analyses that Gray and others have told BIV: shoppers are reining in spending

The survey asked Canadians to compare their shopping this year, compared with last year. 

"Only about five per cent of Canadians plan to spend more on gifts this year," Gray said, adding that this does not vary much by income.

"Just under half – 46 per cent – of adult Canadians said that they expect to maintain the same level of purchasing on holiday gifts this year as they did last year, while 41 per cent plan to spend less," he said.

British Columbians had a slightly higher likelihood of increasing their holiday spending – eight per cent, he added.

Despite Black Friday promotions attracting much buy-in from Canadians, Interac this week projected that Friday (Dec. 22) will be the busiest shopping day of the holiday season.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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