11/22/2013 14:04 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 16:01 EST

B.C. retailers fight back with Black Friday bargains

Next Friday marks the biggest day on the U.S. retailing calendar: Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, when huge crowds gather to grab the best deals on the unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season.

In recent years, Black Friday sales have driven Canadian shoppers south of the border in droves, but this year local shopping centres are fighting hard to compete with the big U.S. retailers. The signs are up, the ads are running, and the promotions are on.

“What we're trying to do here is keep Canadians in Canada for Black Friday,” says Ultan Kampf, general manager of Vancouver’s Pacific Centre mall.

“You can see by the lineups at borders we are losing business to the U.S.— there's no doubt about that.”

A new report from BMO indicates that 47 per cent of Canadian consumers and 45 per cent of British Columbians are planning to shop this Black Friday, up from 41 per cent in 2012.

On average, Canadians are expected to spend $292 on Black Friday, $231 for British Columbians.

But Bellingham Chamber of Commerce chair Bill Gorman says Canadian retailers simply can't compete with the deals south of the border, and that he expects a parking lot full of B.C. plates next Friday.

"The primary driver for most of the business that come to Watcom County is price,” says Gorman.