More Canadians plan to search for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, according to a new poll — but, sales might be hindered by pandemic-induced supply chain shortages.
Big retailers may be able to offer blow-out deals, but that isn’t the case for many small businesses, according to Out of the Blue owner Wendy Waters.
"It’s not like you’re going to be able to sell a bunch of stuff... and then replenish," Waters said.
Her Osborne Village clothing shop normally doesn’t partake in big end-of-November sales anyway, she said. She might offer some discounts, but she’ll be mindful of what gets a coloured sticker — Out of the Blue just tried to restock some pants from Montreal but couldn’t due to shortages.
"It’s a weird year," she said. "We’re having a hard time just getting Christmas stuff."
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are geared to big companies who use the weekend to gauge items’ popularity for December, Waters said.
McNally Robinson doesn’t often participate in Black Friday deals, and this November is no exception, according to business co-owner Lori Baker.
"We’re not sure what this year is bringing," she said. "People are shopping early, we’re bringing out our Christmas stuff early... Some of our new releases are coming late just because of the supply chain."
Never mind Black Friday, she said — Manitobans should be holiday shopping now before items run out.
Sixty-one per cent of Canadians plan on shopping the weekend of Black Friday, according to a poll by Shopify, an e-commerce platform.
Last year, only 50 per cent of respondents said they’d hunt for the weekend’s deals.
Half of the poll’s 1,045 respondents said they plan on looking for both Black Friday deals on Nov. 26, and Cyber Monday sales on Nov. 29.
"We’re really looking forward to this year, to have a more regular Black Friday," said Corey Quintaine, the marketing manager for Kildonan Place and Grant Park malls.
Only essential products and pick-up services were available during the 2020 event, causing a major decrease in traffic.
"Before the pandemic, we found that more people were shopping on Black Friday or around Black Friday than they were on Boxing Day," Quintaine said. "It was really picking up steam, and then last year, everything changed."
Now, stores seem to be extending their sales longer, Quintaine said — instead of a day, week or weekend, deals could begin before the week of Black Friday.
"A lot of it has to do with safety," he said. "You don’t want those big crowds at the doors like you had in past years. So, if you can take a great offer and offer it for... an entire two weeks, that can spread out those customers."
He expects traffic throughout November will compare to pre-pandemic Black Friday sales.
According to Shopify’s poll, Canadians plan to spend $542 over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, increasing $61 from the $481 average reported in 2020.
Half of respondents said they’d shop both in-person and online (up from 45 per cent last year). Thirty-nine per cent said they’d stick to online, and 10 per cent said they’d solely shop in stores.
Natasha Hueging is one who’d only peruse online, if she shops over the busy weekend.
"Might as well look for a deal," she said, adding she’d like a leather diaper bag, but they’re pricey.
COVID-19 isn’t scaring Hueging from malls — she just doesn’t like crowds.
Although 84 per cent of Shopify’s respondents said the pandemic will impact their shopping, only one-third of online shoppers said they’d avoid stores because of COVID-19. Last year, 51 per cent of people cited it as their reason to stay home.
Jennifer Hiraoka, an employee of Bellissima in Grant Park mall, has noticed a substantial shift in customers.
"The more that the vaccinations go up, and the percentages go up, and there’s not a huge spike in numbers, the more comfortable people are," she said.
Now, the clothing store is filled with folks coming from a movie or other shops — not just from the grocery store.
"You see more groups of people, friends... You see it livening up," Hiraoka said. "It’s almost like pre-COVID."
Shopify conducted its poll from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. It has a three percentage point margin of error.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.