A number of Vancouver retailers are fighting back against cross-boarder shopping and Black Friday by offering deep discounts and sales.
Russ Davies, executive director of the West Fourth Avenue Business Improvement Association, said in an attempt to attract Black Friday crowds many shops along the street are holding weekend-long sales Nov. 23 to 25. Davies noted the area’s strengths lie in fashion, home décor, sports equipment, mobile phones and gadgets, and clothing.
“The weekend is going to mirror exactly what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Davies. “It will be like a mini Boxing Day.”
Some consider Black Friday, always held the Friday after the American Thanksgiving, as the point in the year when U.S. businesses begin to profit, putting them “in the black.”
Others believe the term was coined in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, to describe the throngs of shoppers and vehicles that filled the streets the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of holiday sales. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day in the U.S. and considered the equivalent of Boxing Day in Canada. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday is the marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. Cyber Monday is considered the busiest online shopping day of the year in the U.S. and increasingly in Canada.
Julian Alphibert, manager of the West Fourth Avenue location of The North Face, famous for its outdoor clothing and equipment, said their sale is timed ideally for shoppers preparing for winter sports and activities.
“The merchants on the street are going to be doing their best to drive traffic to their stores. But rather than a one-day venture, the sales are going to last all weekend with some elements of surprise,” said Alphibert, who was reluctant to share those surprises. “They’ll just have to come out and see for themselves. But I promise it will be well worth the trip.”
Many Canadian retailers weren’t happy this past summer when as of July 1, the amount of duty-free goods Canadians travelling to the U.S. for more than 24 hours were able to bring back was increased from $50 to $200. For Canadians away for more than 48 hours, the exemption increased from $400 to $800. But shoppers must also factor in the cost of travel and accommodation when deciding whether those U.S. deals are actually worth it. It’s also up to shoppers to ensure warranties for items such as electronics will be honoured in Canada.
Mark Startup, president and CEO of Shelfspace, said Canadian retailers are rising to the challenges presented by Black Friday. Shelfspace is an association for retail entrepreneurs throughout Western Canada.
“Canadian retailers are sharpening their pencils and sending the message they are competitive,” said Startup. “They can’t beat the U.S. on all fronts, but they’re working at it.”
Locally, the Bay is also celebrating Black Friday with deep discounts and sales scheduled for Nov. 23 and Cyber Monday, Nov. 26. Now through Nov. 23, the Bay is offering one-day sales during which one item is deeply discounted to a price comparable to items found at Black Friday sales.
An email from Best Buy spokesperson Danielle Jang said the big box store, famous for its electronics, is having a Black Friday sale from Nov. 23 to 25. Jang added all sales will also be available online. No one from Walmart Canada returned phone calls before the Courier’s press deadline.
A list of West Fourth Avenue retailers taking part in Black Friday sales will be complete by Tuesday, Nov. 20, and available at shopwest4th.com.