It’s official: Canadian shoppers are now identical to U.S. ones

A boy waits to enter the Toys R Us on Black Friday last November. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It’s official, Canadian consumers have abandoned Boxing Day in favour of Black Friday.

New data out from Statistics Canada almost certainly confirms it — malls flourished in November as retailers rolled out pre-Christmas deals much like U.S. stores have done for decades.

Spent shoppers then dialed back in December (see chart below).

Consumers spent $1 billion more in November than they did in December, the data shows, mirroring a similar pattern seen between the two months in 2014. And in 2013.

MORE: Canadian shoppers have deserted U.S. outlet stores: HBC

In fact, the last time spending in December — read: the “traditional” holiday shopping month — was higher than in November was way back in 2011.

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“Households have pulled spending forward to the Black Friday sales period, rather than the traditional Christmas period,” Andrew Grantham, an economist at CIBC, says.

“This trend of strong November growth rates, followed by weakness in December, is something we have seen for three or four years now.”

Among those retailers who saw a pull-back in December were electronics shops and apparel stores. But December’s decline was pretty broad based, with general merchandisers seeing a drop of 2.2 per cent, while shoe stores, jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores all posting lower sales in December.

“With more sectors now getting involved in the Black Friday sales period, this is not particularly surprising,” Grantham said.


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