Canada: Black Friday no holiday for small retailers
What started as a day-after-Thanksgiving shopping binge in the United States has spread across the border.
Black Friday isn’t a holiday in Canada, but shoppers with a day off work or a few minutes to spare can find some of the best deals of the year.
Large retailers from Apple to Walmart are known for offering big deals on Black Friday, and they have the advertising budgets to push their messages out to the crowds.
But small retailers can find it difficult to compete against the massive deals customers find at big stores.
Steve Budnarchuk is a co-owner of Audreys Books, an independent bookstore on Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton.
“It’s more difficult for small independents to come up with significant Black Friday offers,” Budnarchuk said Thursday, acknowledging his shop still may be able to offer a few deals.
“The main difference is the ability to advertise significantly,” he said. “The fact that [large chains] can fill my newspaper with more flyers than newspaper [is challenging.]” He added that any deals Audreys does put together are unlike to be advertised.
Audreys customers haven’t asked about Black Friday deals, but Budnarchuk doesn’t think they expect any.
“If we do anything, it’s to thank our regular customers,” he said. “These other folks are using it as major traffic builders.”
Small shops don’t need ‘sales game’
Emily Deveaux is a retail strategist and executive director of The School of Retailing at the University of Alberta’s School of Business.
She agrees it’s hard for local businesses to compete — and said the solution is to simply not to try.
“The challenge for small retailers is that they should never be in the sales game,” Deveaux said. “If someone is interested in Black Friday sales, they probably aren’t interested in your Black Friday sales.”
Deveaux said most shoppers are looking for big-ticket items, like washers and dryers or TVs, which might be something that local businesses aren’t able to keep up with. Big retailers often have large amounts of stock available; they sell for less money but hope to make a bit more on sheer volume.
“It can just hurt their business rather than help their business,” she said of local retailers trying to match sales.
Budnarchuk said though small independents usually don’t have the ability to compete with Black Friday sales, that doesn’t mean Audreys is a strictly full-price store.
“There’s this general perception that small independents don’t have sales or special pricing,” he said. “We do that all the time.
“We’re competitive at off-pricing, but we’re not deep discounting.”
Still, Deveaux said it’s simple: regardless of when the sales are or how big the discounts, consumers win during sales. “People are always going to consume,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ve met anybody who has any complaint about products being discounted.”
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