This year, many Canadians participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday in hopes of finding outstanding discounts. These traditionally American phenomena have spread to Canada in a big way, partly due to efforts by mall landlords and larger retailers. Did you participate in this year's Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? We're curious to hear your opinions. We've interviewed Yorkdale Mall's Anthony Casalanguida and consulted with retail expert RJ Cilley to get their opinions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Canada.
Anthony Casalanguida, General Manager at Yorkdale Mall, expected that Black Friday was going to be a big deal at his mall. Yorkdale polled customers and found that a substantial portion of them planned to participate in Black Friday, both in-store as well as online. Though he didn't expect Black Friday to be as popular as Boxing Day in Canada, Mr. Casalanguida still anticipated large crowds. As a response, Yorkdale put forth efforts to improve accessibility during an otherwise busy and potentially stressful time.
As vehicle access to the mall continues to be very important, Yorkdale has modernized its parking. Yorkdale is the only shopping centre in the Toronto area to offer a parking feature on its mobile App which updates shoppers every 15 minutes on the best areas to find a parking space. In addition, all Yorkdale parking entrances are equipped with computerized tabulators that display the number of available parking stalls, while 'stop light technology' above each stall in the underground parking lot clearly shows drivers where there is availability to park. You can have a live look at parking before you leave home with live streaming video of the upper deck parking on www.yorkdale.com. The mall also launched valet parking in November 2012 as part of its $185 million expansion.
But Yorkdale isn't only facilitating access by car - since last week, shoppers who travel to Yorkdale on a TTC Family Day Pass can receive a $10 Yorkdale gift card. Shoppers can present a valid pass with same-day receipts totalling $50 or more at the guest services kiosk (located near Timothy’s World Coffee).
In the end, crowds descended upon Canadian retailers for Black Friday, though not as many as were initially expected. We spoke to several retailers both at Yorkdale and other malls who say sales were lower than they expected despite considerable buzz in-store. Was it the lack of deep discounts like those commonly found on the same day in American cities? Some shoppers complained that this years Black Friday sales were essentially no different than regular retail sales. In the United States, plenty of retailers offered 70% and 80% discounts, while many of the sales witnessed in Canada were in the 40-50% range - no better savings than a typical sale in many stores.
RJ Cilley, Director of Corporate / Business Development at the Hudson's Bay Company, gave us his insights into Black Friday and its increasing popularity among Canadians. According to Mr. Cilley, "Canadian retailers traditionally did not partake in Black Friday events; however, Canadian consumers are more frequently crossing the border to hunt for deals. Over the past few years Canadian retailers saw this as an opportunity and began to offer Black Friday savings events." Cilley further noted that Canadians are seeking not only to get Black Friday deals, but also to be part of the excitement Black Friday offers.
Excitement aside, we asked Mr. Cilley if he felt that Black Friday deals are worth it. His response was that "consumers are getting great deals on Black Friday; however, [...] there are times with heavier promotions in certain categories throughout the Christmas selling season." he added "There are certain categories that will most likely offer their highest discounts of the holiday season, such as electronics, as this is a major foot traffic driver."
Mr. Cilley further described Cyber Monday as an American trend that has been slower to gain momentum in Canada, noting that "the Canadian consumer is still learning about the event and retailers must focus their attention on marketing the event properly." He then went on to say that Cyber Monday's biggest discounts [were] in categories that did not clear well during Black Friday sales."
So what was your experience with this year's Canadian Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? Did you get a good deal? Was there chaos in stores similar to what has occasionally turned to violence in American stores? Please feel free to comment below or on our Facebook Page, or tweet us your impressions of Canadian Black Friday/Cyber Monday to our Twitter account.