Categorized | Editorial

Retailers tell ” white lies” about big Black Friday “discounts”

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Those Black Friday deals may not be as good as they seem.

“There is mounting evidence that the Black Friday phenomenon is associated with inflating original prices, creating a false sense of urgency among shoppers and encouraging rash decision-making,” according to a new report commissioned by Vancity.

The report cites one large U.S. study in which “among the majority of monitored retailers, average prices did not change significantly on Black Friday and in many cases actually increased compared with the day and even the week prior,” said Mohamed Ladak, Vancity vice-president of payment solutions.

Black Friday, the U.S. discount shopping day that falls after American Thanksgiving, migrated to Canada along with the influx of U.S.-based retailers and gained a foothold as a kickoff to Canada’s holiday shopping season.

In the U.S., toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price hikes of about 23 per cent, according to White Lies on Black Friday: Pricing Integrity in Black Friday Sales, prepared by the Mustel Group for Vancity.

Spending in the 2013 Black Friday to Cyber Monday period increased 16 per cent compared to the previous year among Vancity enviro Visa cardholders.

“We’re not suggesting good deals cannot be found,” Ladak noted. “Do your research.”

Mark Startup, vice-president of MyStore, a division of the Retail Council of Canada, said local retailers and consumers have definitely adopted Black Friday.

But “is the white lie to be construed as a practice in the industry? I would say certainly not,” Startup said. “There is too much competition and consumers are too intelligent and have too much information to find themselves deceived …”

Indeed, a 2013 Canadian study found that 28 per cent of shoppers browsed Black Friday deals but did not buy. Almost three quarters of Canadian shoppers avoided Black Friday sales in 2013, according to retail consultant David Ian Gray’s DIG 360 Black Friday survey in 2013, which was conducted using AskingCanadians’ online data collection.

Black Friday is driven by large department-store-type, U.S.-based merchants, but Canadian independent retailers “are less likely to embrace the Black Friday brand because it stands for significant discounting in the lead-up to U.S. Christmas,” Startup said, echoing the Mustel study findings.

Shoppers can expect to see “a few doorcrasher” sales from the big-box retailers, and everything else on a “fairly typical seasonal discount,” Gray predicted. “Are you going to see amazing knockout deals? It’s going to be a muted version of Boxing Day.”

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