Black Friday 2021 to Overtake Friday Before Christmas for Retail Sales in Canada: Study

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Black Friday has become the busiest shopping day of the holiday season for Canadian retailers.

According to Moneris, Canada’s largest provider of mobile, online and in-store payments, Black Friday last year overtook the Friday before Christmas with the most retail sales. And yes, it’s become even more popular than Boxing Day.

Peter Goldsztajn, Director of Corporate Data Analytics for Moneris, said Black Friday has definitely taken the lead over the last few years.

Old Navy at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Photo by Dustin Fuhs)

“Last year, given all the restrictions and capacity limits (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and in certain regions complete lockdowns, it wasn’t I would say as popular but it was still the busiest day,” he said.

Peter Goldsztajn

“Moneris processed I think at one point 550 transactions per second. Although it was lower than prior years by about 100 transactions, which was probably related to the lockdowns and restrictions, it’s expected that this year that trend will continue. It’s hard to say how much more but I do anticipate it’s going to be a rebound for sure.

“We can actually observe the busiest shopping time between 2 and 4 p.m. Eastern. It’s essentially when we record pretty much consecutively as the busiest shopping time.”

Goldsztajn said Moneris is expecting a spike in activity this year over last year and the company expects apparel, household goods, mass merchandise and specialty categories to top the lists of items purchased this Black Friday. Moneris is also forecasting consumers throughout the holiday season will seek experiences and experience-related gifts to enjoy with loved ones.

Indigo at Bay & Bloor (Photo by Dustin Fuhs)

He said that Black Friday has overtaken Boxing Day and much of that has to do with the timing of the event.

“I think a lot of people like to take advantage of the schedule essentially of the day and how it lands before the holidays to capture some of those sales for gifting,” said Goldsztajn.

Moneris is also expecting transaction levels during the peak of the Black Friday rush to be closer to pre-pandemic levels, now that capacity limits at stores are lifted in most provinces across Canada and consumer confidence is higher.

“Another interesting thing here is that retail experts caution on the availability of toys and apparel. Because of limitations due to the impact of COVID ongoing globally in regards to the availability of products, we definitely recommend shopping earlier,” he said.

“It’s much more important. If you’re looking for that hot new toy, then you should probably get out there earlier and if you can’t get out there earlier, a good alternative to shopping is gift cards.”

He said that over the past year average transaction sizes for shopping have increased.

“People are spending more with a lower amount of visits,” added Goldsztajn. “We do expect a little bit of that as well. That trend has been continuing throughout the latter half of 2020 into 2021. I don’t see that trend slowing down yet.

“People are still focusing on experience-based activities. That trend has been pretty vivid throughout the pandemic . . . We’ve seen a large lift this year in areas like movie theatres, going out, triple digit growth. That trend seems to be very much aligned with the rebound and the recovery from COVID. That’s going to be an interesting trend to watch, especially over the holidays.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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