Black Friday is almost upon us. And while the unofficial launch of holiday shopping usually has British Columbians flocking south of the border, this year the Lower Mainland is fighting hard to keep shoppers local on Nov. 29.
"This year the Lower Mainland has really got on board," Judy Black, Marketing Director for Metropolis at Metrotown mall, told The Huffington Post B.C. "The malls are opening early, they're offering specials. This is our way to say, 'Hey, you can save yourself the time and hassle of sitting in that border lineup not only one direction but both ways, and you can get some deals here locally.'"
This is Metrotown's first year participating in Black Friday. The first 250 shoppers to line up at the mall's Atrium Court will receive a wristband, which scores them a free mystery gift card worth anything from $5 to $500 (a total of $3,000 worth of cards are being given out). At least 125 of Metrotown's shops are offering some kind of Black Friday deal, and for the first time ever, the mall will open at 7 a.m.
Many other shopping centres across the Greater Vancouver Area are offering special Black Friday deals. Richmond Centre, Pacific Centre, Coquitlam Centre, Central City, and Guildford Town Centre are all offering perks if you choose to spend your shopping day with them.
But it's not just malls that are trying to keep shoppers on this side of the border—it's individual shops, too.
Two of Hearts, an independent Vancouver boutique with locations on West 4th Avenue and Main Street, is hosting a Black Friday fashion show, party, and sale at its West 4th location. Their party is part of the West 4th BIA's Black Friday initiative; it is one of many happening across Vancouver's neighbourhoods.
Tabitha Savoie, owner of Two of Hearts, echoes Black's sentiments that this is B.C.'s first year really embracing Black Friday and working hard to hold onto its shoppers.
"You hear ads on the radio and see commercials on TV," she told HuffPost B.C. "Everyone is doing a Black Friday thing. It doesn't matter if it's a big company or a small company; everyone seems to be participating. And that's just a sign of the times. The economy is slow."
But are shoppers likely to take the bait? A recent survey by consulting firm Accenture says that 60 per cent of Canadian respondents said that despite homegrown deals, they plan on shopping in the States this Friday.
“Canadians feel retailers in Canada are not doing enough to compete with U.S. stores on Black Friday,” Accenture said in a statement.
But Savoie emphasizes the significance of shopping local.
"This is the first year I've really noticed that everybody's on board," Savoie continues. "So it must mean that we really want to keep the business here. It's important. Otherwise everything will die."
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