For years, Canadian shoppers and retailers alike looked south with envy (and sometimes horror) at the U.S. shopping frenzy known as Black Friday.
In the past few years, all that changed as Canadian retailers decided to launch their own Black Friday — and their own Cyber Monday, the day after the U.S. holiday weekend when tech stores offer deals on their gadgets.
This year Black Friday and Cyber Monday — which land on Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 respectively — look to be larger than ever in Canada.
Cadillac-Fairview, one of the largest shopping mall operators in the country, says 21 of its malls across the country will open early on Black Friday.
“I think it’s a new tradition. I think it kicks off the shopping season nicely,” Wendy Greenwood, the company’s marketing director for Ontario, told the Toronto Star.
Even without an actual holiday weekend, Black Friday appears to be headed for success in Canada.
Greenwood told the Star that traffic increased 22 per cent to the six Cadillac-Fairview malls that experimented with Black Friday last year.
Many retailers aren’t waiting for Black Friday to start offering holiday deals. Amazon, Target and Walmart are among the stores offering deals all month, eCanadaNow reports.
Part of the reason Canadian retailers are getting in on Black Friday is fear of cross-border shopping eating away at their profits. To shore up local retailers, Yellow Pages Group has launched a campaign urging Canadians, particularly Greater Toronto residents, to stay close to home during Black Friday.
Some Canadian sellers don’t want to wait until American Thanksgiving, and have launched their own "Black Friday" sales for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in early October.
That has some shoppers worried about “Christmas Creep” — the holiday season seemingly starting a little bit earlier year after year.
But retailers argue pushing up the shopping season to before December is good for customers, who can avoid a last-minute rush in crowded stores.
"Many of our customers said to us, 'We hate the hectic pace of December, we want to have the opportunity to shop early,'" says Toys R Us Chief Marketing Officer Richard Barry.