TORONTO - Marketers love the Black Friday shopping holiday and continue to find ways to exploit its growing popularity.
Black Friday went from being a one-day event to an all-weekend series of sales. This year, pre-Black Friday sales were going strong on Thursday.
And, of course, at the end of the weekend there's Cyber Monday, the big online shopping day.
Canadian retailers have tried to cash in on the Black Friday trend by organizing their own sales and promising deals just as good as the ones that cause stampedes stateside.
But are the Canadian retailers offering promotions that truly rival prices south of the border?
The Canadian Press compared some of the Black Friday flyers of retailers in the U.S. and Canada to see how the sales differ and whether there are any legitimate bargains being offered to consumers on Friday.
(All Canadian prices are quoted in Cdn dollars. All U.S. prices are quoted in U.S. dollars.)
There are some pretty decent deals to be had at Walmart in Canada but they don't compare to the deeper discounts in the U.S.
An Xbox 360 console with a four-gigabyte hard drive is going for $129 in Canada, which is a good $50 off. But if you were in the U.S. you could pick one up for just $99. An RCA seven-inch tablet is $68 here and $49 in the U.S., "World War Z" on Blu-ray is $10 higher in Canada, and "Grand Theft Auto V" is $39 here and $34 down south. While Walmart Canada's big TV doorcrasher is an RCA 32-inch LED TV for $168, a 32-inch Funai LED TV is $98 in the U.S.
But Canadians can snag one deal that would make American bargain hunters jealous. A Keurig Special Edition K60 coffee machine is $68 in Canada and $139 in the U.S.
There are a few common items on sale at Best Buy on both sides of the border which would suggest it's maybe not worth a trip. A 46-inch Samsung LED TV is $499.99 in Canada and just $22 cheaper in the U.S., while a 32-gigabyte version of the Microsoft Surface tablet is $199.99 in both countries. A 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with four gigabytes of memory and 128 gigabytes of storage is $200 cheaper in the U.S., but is that enough savings to plan a trip? It depends on how much other shopping you plan to do. And cross your fingers that the computer doesn't sell out.
Target Canada's flyer is much, much leaner than the American version, making price comparison more difficult, but the TV doorcrasher looks a little better in the U.S. There, $229 gets you a 50-inch Element LED TV, while the Canadian doorcrasher is $30 cheaper but 11 inches smaller in size.
Once again, there's a better deal to be had in Canada on a Keurig coffee brewer.
Some of the deals Amazon.ca has highlighted are priced better than in the U.S., although the opposite is true for some of the promotions targeted to American customers. Canadians were being offered a Blu-ray set of the complete series of "Friends" for $69.99 while it was $149.99 in the U.S. A Toshiba 32-inch LED TV was $199 in Canada, a savings of almost $40 versus the U.S. store. On the other hand, an Xbox 360 250-gigabyte Holiday Bundle was $249 in Canada and $60 cheaper in the U.S.
The best thing you can do before making a big purchase on Black Friday in Canada is to Google an item's regular price — on both sides of the border — and then figure out whether there's any rush in pulling out a credit card. Yes, many products will be on sale but not necessarily with a deep enough discount to warrant waiting in long lines. And in some cases, you may not want to gamble with the off-brand electronics that are often highlighted as doorcrashers.
With almost a month's worth of shopping days left before Christmas, there will be other sales. Cyber Monday is a few days away. And then there's always Boxing Day.