Black Friday is upon us but this year’s shopping extravaganza may be met with less fanfare as retailers deal with supply chain problems and labour shortages.
The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season may have seemed to have started earlier this year, as retailers try to spread out demand to avoid a product crunch.
Saibal Ray with McGill University’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management says many retailers’ sales started at end of October or early November.
“This is an extremely important year for retailers,” Ray said.
Stores have been rolling out discounts for weeks, encouraging consumers to buy early to avoid potential product shortages as supply chains continue to be affected.
Ray says that means with demand remaining high, those famous deals won’t be as impressive this year.
“Mostly the supply chain problem, to some extent the labour shortage, I would expect the deals to be a bit less. Even for the big retailers, I think the amount of discount will not be as deep as in 2019,” Ray said.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, shoppers are optimistic this year and will be heading back to brick and mortar stores in droves.
“There is a strong desire to return to in-store shopping and we have seen that over the past weeks as malls see an increase in foot traffic,” spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen said.
As of opening hours in Quebec, according to Moneris, Canada’s leading payment provider, nearly 2.4 million transactions have been made so far, with a high of 305 transactions per second across Ontario and Quebec.
The retail council warns that as supply chain issues affect retailers big and small, customers may have to limit their expectations when it comes to buying that special gift.
“We know there is lots of product on the shelves, consumers just might have to have some flexibility if the exact thing looking for is not there,” Wasylyshen said.
They suggest starting the search earlier, adding that gift cards may be the best alternative.
While holiday spirits may be on the rise, holiday spending is expected to be down slightly this year, according to an annual study done by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA).
Canadians are planning to spend on average close to $555 on gifts, compared with $588 in 2020.
If you’re worried about missing out, economists say don’t worry, the sales won’t be going fast, as retailers hope to keep the shopping frenzy going long into the new year.
— with files from The Canadian Press