Boxing Day sales threatened over concerns over Omicron variant, retail experts say

Boxing Day is expected to take a beating from its young rival this year.

While Black Friday had already passed December 26 as the shopping day of the season, pandemic restrictions and concerns over increasing COVID-19 cases could worsen sales disparities as more and more consumers are staying at home for the holidays, according to business experts.

The Retail Council of Canada’s annual holiday survey in August found that November 26 may be the biggest shopping event of the year. He now says he will further eclipse Boxing Day after fears about the Omicron variant escalated in early December.

Capacity restrictions in at least six provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, will have minimal impact on outlets accustomed to adapting to the measures, Retail Council spokesperson Karl Littler said. . But neither of those thresholds were in place for Black Friday, and both Black Friday and Boxing Day are associated with long lines and crowded floors, potentially deterring customers.

“We really saw that consumers were a lot more optimistic this year than they were last year. And they really had a desire to go back to more normal types of holiday traditions,” said Michelle Wasylyshen, another spokesperson for the Retail Council, in a telephone interview.

“It’s all kind of in the gutter right now. “

Concerns over harassed global supply chains

Customers have divergent goals over the course of the two days, with giveaways such as clothes, toys, and food topping the Black Friday list, while so-called personal purchases – especially electronics, d appliances and furniture – define Boxing Day.

However, these big-ticket items remain among the most affected by harassed global supply chains, making them more difficult to obtain.

“It was really affected by the late arrival of products in the supply chain, products that maybe don’t arrive at all, with retailers not knowing when the product was going to arrive,” Wasylyshen said.

“On Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, they really stole some of the Boxing Day shopping.”

The drastic reduction in cross-border travel over the past 21 months has redirected business to Canadian retailers and from the United States – where Black Friday originated – a trend that was already underway.

“Maybe 10 years ago, Canadians crossed the border, went to stores and bought these items in-store, especially when the dollar was at par,” said Kate Musgrove, director of the RedFlagDeals buying forum. .com. during a telephone interview.

“Now it’s not that easy to cross the border and the dollar is not really fair with the US dollar,” which led to an increase in domestic purchases at the end of November.

Bargain hunters should go online

While the best deals are often found in stores – “if you’re really looking for the bargain” – shopping online will provide a tasty alternative for those looking to browse from the comfort of their couch, he said. she adds.

Philip Thampy, director of retail and Geek Squad operations at Best Buy Canada, said demand has been strong throughout the pandemic.

Although Black Friday has grown in recent years, Boxing Day remains one of the biggest chain business events of the year.

“Boxing Day is always a very important day and week of activity for us,” Thampy said. “Many consumers see electronics as a Boxing Day shopping opportunity.”

Many people are given gift cards or cash for Christmas and are looking for Boxing Day sales to spend those amounts, he said.

Best Buy planned ahead to make sure there is adequate inventory to meet Boxing Day demand, Thampy added.


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