Black Friday Sales in Canada Plateaued in 2014

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By David Ian Gray, DIG360 Consulting Ltd.

Following the speculation and “hype” in the lead-up to Black Friday 2014 in Canada, we have released our annual tracker of actual shopper behaviour in the aftermath. This year marks our new partnership with Mike Rodenburgh, EVP of Ipsos West, and the highly respected Ipsos Canada team.

The following is an excerpt from our release:

DIG360 and Ipsos have been tracking shopper behaviour in Canada on a regular basis and have released their latest findings of trends around retail Black Friday 2014. Awareness of Black Friday is entrenched in Canada, nudging up to 98% from 97% the year previous. However, factoring the slight gain in awareness, there was a 5% drop in those reporting they knew about it, but did not browse offers nor buy any Black Friday deals. In the end, a quarter (25%) purchased Black Friday deals, similar to the 27% incidence in 2013 (16% bought in 2010).  

“We see this as a plateau in Canadian Black Friday”, says DIG360’s David Ian Gray, “barring an economic upturn and I’m not anticipating any shift to broader and deeper discounting by retailers in future years, which in fact would be bad for business this early in the Holiday Season”. The data complements anecdotal reports that shoppers are not seeing the deals expected given the pre-Black Friday ‘hype’. Gray points out that even with a minority buying, Black Friday in Canada is entrenched as one of the most significant shopping weekends in Canadian retail.

“One of the more interesting changes in our data was that more Canadians are shopping from online Canadian websites for Black Friday sales”, explained Rodenburgh. Last year 38% of Canadian Black Friday shoppers shopped at an online Canadian website for Black Friday deals while this year it increased to 42%. Gray explains that “the increase may be due to better online promotions among Canada’s online retailers.”

In terms of its impact on other purchasing over the November-December period, the study found 13% of Canadians had postponed purchases this fall until they could see what Black Friday offers. Furthermore, 41% of Canadians browsing or buying Black Friday weekend were mostly shopping for themselves, suggesting there is plenty of Holiday shopping still to come in December. Nonetheless, perhaps the lack of growth for Black Friday is a harbinger of a flat Holiday period overall.

Notable findings from the DIG360 – Ipsos Black Friday Canada Tracker
• Canadians are universally aware of Black Friday (98%)
    – Notably, Quebec has finally caught up to the rest of Canada this year on          awareness and participation.
• Canadians participating (browsing or buying) in Black Friday sales dropped slightly to 51% (from 55% in 2013).
• Those buying remains at about a quarter of Canadians (25% this year, 27% last)
     – The average spend: $295.80 (52% of Canadians spent between $101 and $500).
• Factoring margin of error, this suggests more a “plateau” than a drop in buyers.
      – BC residents had the lowest Black Friday participation at 39% (and was lowest in 2010).
• Of those browsing or buying, 25% reported they postponed purchasing earlier this Fall to wait for Black Friday deals.
• While stores remain the dominant channel, we are seeing the gradual decline of in-store shopping with an uptick in web (from websites in both Canada and US).
• Surprisingly, given the CAD$, cross border shopping incidence was consistent or even slightly up.
• 54% of men (vs 31% of women) were all or mostly shopping for themselves.
• 31% bought or plan to buy something cross-border (web or store) this Holiday Season (Nov-Dec).
   – Only 19% of Quebeckers have or expect to cross-border shop (consistent with 2013)

This was the latest survey in the series of the developed by DIG360 in 2010. The 2014 version begins its partnership with Ipsos. These results are based on an online survey of 1,005 Canadian adults conducted by Ipsos using the Canadian Online Omnibus. Interviews were conducted in English & French between December 1st and December 3rd, 2014. The final data are statistically weighted to reflect the actual age, gender and education of the Canadian population and are balanced by region

DIG360 Consulting Ltd. helps retail executives focus or recharge sustainable growth. They help develop customer strategies that resonate with the right target audiences, competing on better experiences and relationships. David Ian Gray leads DIG360 and is a recognized expert on shopper trends and retail strategies.

Ipsos Canada is Canada’s leading survey-based marketing research firm. With offices in 86 countries, we live and work in the world’s largest markets and do business anywhere we’re called on. Michael Rodenburgh heads up Ipsos West. 



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