The FINANCIAL -- There is a new U.S. trend that is winning over Canadian shoppers for having the best deals of the holiday season: Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, according to Accenture’s 2014 holiday shopping survey. The survey revealed that the traditional Canadian holiday of Boxing Day is losing its prominence among consumers for having the best deals of the season, as the popularity of Black Friday shopping has grown since last year.
The survey found that Canadian consumers expect to find the best deals on both Black Friday (33 per cent) and Boxing Day (33 per cent). This is a significant shift from last year, when Accenture’s 2013 holiday shopping survey found that 44 per cent of Canadian consumers expected to find the best deals on Boxing Day, compared to only 23 per cent expecting the best deals on Black Friday.
Sixty-one per cent of the Canadian respondents said they are planning to shop on Black Friday this year, and another 24 per cent said they are somewhat likely to do so. Of those shopping on Black Friday, 57 per cent plan to visit three or more stores. The growing enthusiasm for Black Friday is largely being driven by younger shoppers, as 81 per cent of consumers aged 18 to 24 are very or somewhat likely to shop on Black Friday. In comparison, 56 per cent of consumers aged 45 to 59, and 30 per cent of those aged 60 years and older, are very or somewhat likely to make Black Friday purchases, according to Accenture.
“The market has changed and Canadian retailers need to be aggressive with offering the best deals of the season during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to keep and grow market share,” said Robin Sahota, Managing Director, Retail at Accenture in Canada. “As the popularity of the U.S. holiday discount shopping dates rise to unprecedented levels in Canada, retailers will be forced to slash prices to meet the changing expectations of consumers, especially millennials who have embraced Black Friday and the ensuing Cyber Monday online shopping day more than any other age group,” he added.
Fewer Canadians Planning to Shop South of the Border
The Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey found Canadians plan to shop less with U.S. retailers online and in stores on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and during the entire holiday season. According to the survey, less than a quarter of Canadian consumers (24 per cent) plan to do cross-border shopping to take advantage of U.S. deals, down from 60 per cent last year. Of those consumers who plan to cross-border shop, 50 per cent plan to shop online and in stores, 25 per cent will shop almost all online and 23 per cent will shop only in stores. The top products that cross-border shoppers are looking for include apparel (58 per cent) and toys (30 per cent).
“It is not surprising to see cross-border shopping will be down this year, considering the lower Canadian dollar and that a growing number of Canadian retailers have been proactive with preventing holiday spending dollars from fleeing south of the border by offering more Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals,” said Kelly Askew, Managing Director, Strategy at Accenture. “The arrival of more American-based retailers in Canada has provided Canadians with options they once could only find in the U.S., which helps to encourage consumers to stay and spend in Canada,” Askew added.
Most Canadians Not Planning to Cut Holiday Spending This Year
Sixty per cent of Canadian consumers plan to spend the same as last year on holiday purchases, while one in five (21 per cent) plan to spend more. Of those planning to spend more this year, 42 per cent plan to spend $250 or more compared to last year. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of those who intend to spend more said that they have more discretionary income this year, and 16 per cent indicated they have greater job security, showing some indications of increased financial optimism among consumers.
Of the 19 per cent who plan to spend less this year on holiday shopping, 37 per cent said they will reduce the amount they spend by $99 or less. Reasons for spending less include having less savings (47 per cent), experiencing a rise in living expenses (40 per cent) and having less discretionary income (38 per cent).
This holiday season, consumers intend to spend an average of $685.35 on gifts, according to Accenture.
Even though the majority of consumers expect to spend the same or more this year, nearly all respondents (94 per cent) said discounts will be important to their purchasing decisions, and 28 per cent said it would take a discount of 50 per cent or more to persuade them to make a purchase.
More Consumers Want a Smooth Holiday Shopping Experience
According to the survey, consumers want a seamless holiday shopping experience across all channels – online, in store and mobile - especially when it comes to order fulfilment. Continuing last year’s trend, a growing number of consumers (77 per cent) plan to participate in “webrooming,” browsing online and then going into a store to make their purchase. While online research offers many conveniences, checking if a product is in stock (53 per cent) and being able to touch and feel a product before purchase (53 per cent) are the top reasons to webroom. At the same time, 67 per cent of shoppers say they are likely to participate in “showrooming,” going into a physical store to see a product and then searching online for a better price and making their purchase online.
Driving consumers to a store through seamless offerings – meaning the integration of the in store, online and mobile experience - could lead to more sales, according to the survey. When purchasing an item online and having it shipped to a store or using the in-store pickup option, almost half of consumers (49 per cent) said they would likely buy additional items that were not part of the original purchase when they go to the store to pick it up.
Staying Connected: Growing Use and Influence of Mobile Channels for Shopping
As consumers continue to make greater use of laptops, smartphones and tablets, as well as social media, for shopping online, these advanced technologies will play a more prominent role in holiday shopping this year. More than half of consumers surveyed (58 per cent) indicated they will use a laptop or home computer to make purchases or assist in their holiday shopping, up from 42 per cent in 2013. Almost half of consumers (45 percent) said they would be willing to try or would definitely use a service that would enable them to pay using their smartphone at retail checkouts, which reaffirms the desire for connectedness on in-store and online channels, according to Accenture.