Shopping malls and shopping districts were busy with shoppers in search of Black Friday discounts and a bit of Christmas cheer despite an abundance of sales earlier in the fall and persistent concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the East Coast, Halifax Shopping Center had a festive atmosphere as customers clutching shopping bags snapped pictures in front of a towering Christmas tree while others watched the crowds from a cafe in the mall.
Still, the discounts were hit and miss. One shopper described the deals as “really bad,” while others showed up from the mall filled with bags and boxes of gifts.
“It’s not what it used to be,” Kim McLeod said of the Black Friday sale. “We just have a few specific things.”
Shopper Nick Dempsey said he had already bought most of what he needed online, but came to the mall to “fill in the blanks.”
“I shop most of my vacation online, but I like to take advantage of Black Friday and come in and see what people are doing and what deals there are,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Christmas music and some stores play it… it adds to the Christmas spirit.”
While shoppers showed up at a Best Buy outside Halifax, it was far from the hectic crowds and jam-packed parking lot that marked past Black Fridays.
Shopper Alex Knights said the discounts were “pretty good” on some products.
“It depends on what you get,” he said. “But you can check deals online before you get in. I found a speaker with a subwoofer and it was $ 100 off.”
Ian Leslie went to Best Buy to get a gift for her son.
“I could have ordered it online, but now it’s in my hand, so I do not have to worry about delivery problems or shipping delays,” he said.
Leslie said his concerns about inventory shortages and supply chain constraints prompted him to act early this year.
“I’m about to finish my holiday shopping today,” he said. “I probably did half online and half in stores.”
Stores have been rolling out discounts for weeks, encouraging consumers to shop early to avoid potential product shortages.
The situation has accelerated the so-called Black Friday creep, a trend that started before the pandemic, where retailers are trying to maximize sales by pushing discounts earlier into the fall.
Retail experts say online sales are expected to remain strong this year and even grow slightly from 2020, with services like pickup at the curb remaining popular.
But Anwar White with McGill University’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management said many consumers will continue to shop in stores during the holidays.
“There’s still something special about Black Friday, and there are still people who are actually going out,” he said. “But it will not be heavily driven by sales. When you shop on Black Friday, there is an energy that is unsurpassed and it really says “OK, now it’s Christmas time.”
Bradley Jones, head of retail for Oxford Properties – which owns 10 malls, including Square One, Yorkdale and Scarborough Town Center in Ontario – said the holiday vibe is a big draw for shoppers.
“All of our Christmas decorations are back, our safe Santa experience is set up, and we have the music in the mall that puts people in the spirit,” he said. “Retailers feel optimistic because they see customers coming back.”
Suvi Rajah, who was at the Eaton Center in downtown Toronto, said she and others not only shop on Black Friday because prices are better, but also because it’s a tradition and people are trying to make up for last year’s pandemic shutdowns, shopping malls closed. .
“I’m just going out,” she said. “Buying is … a comforting thing, not necessarily that we need the things (we buy.)”
Rajah picked up a shirt but found it no more affordable than it would be on other days. However, she felt she was getting a great deal on makeup.
Jera Bitto, a student from the University of Toronto, was also in the mall, where shoppers stood in line outside clothing and makeup stores.
Bitto, who tends to leave her purchases until she can find a deal, was on the hunt for gifts for her school friends.
“As a rule, I do not shop. I only shop when things are cheap, ”she said. “I think today is a little cheap.”
– with files from Maan Alhmidi in Toronto
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 25, 2021.
Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press