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Just like everything else in this extraordinary year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ll be shopping all right, but it’s just a question of will we be braving hysterical crowds (doubt it) or shopping online in our underwear.
Are we purchasing luxury items? Or leaving things to a simple card while we struggle to pay the rent?
People will certainly be shopping, and doing everything else to keep a semblance of holiday normality, but those traditional shopping habits – like lining up hours before stores open, or braving huge crowds – are long gone.
In a way, we’re in the wild wild west of holiday shopping, with the Retail Council of Canada reporting that Canadians will be approaching shopping much differently this year. The Council’s annual holiday survey, conducted by Leger, revealed the “ongoing uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has made Canadians less structured in their approach to planning and budgeting for holiday shopping,” notes the website retailcouncil.org . “Their changing lifestyles are reflected in the shifts in the types of product categories they intend to purchase. How they research, buy and bring home merchandise is substantially different this year.”
Plus we’re all learning to live with this season’s official buzzwords: Full health and safety measures in place, curbside service, contact-less curbside pick-up, government ordinance, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance. And on and on.
And, despite COVID-19, Canadians are still planning on spending on gifts. According to the annual Holiday Spending Study from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada/ cpacanada.ca ), “37% of holiday gift shoppers have still put money aside for gifts in 2020,” similar to last year. When it comes to gifting, Canadians “still intend to spend an average of $588 this holiday season,” slightly higher than last year.
The CPA is also reporting that, while online shopping has been nicely trending these past years, the pandemic has given it a mighty boost. Many companies agree, calling this the golden era for e-commerce. Atlasvpn.com is reporting this year’s e-commerce Black Friday sales will reach “an all-time high at $10.2 billion, a 39.4% increase from last year.” RetailMeNot.ca reports 39% of Canadians say they will be shopping online this year while only 9% say they plan to shop in-store. In fact, e-commerce sales are set to reach an all-time high thanks to pandemic-shifted consumer behaviour. People will be looking for deals and spending quite a bit this year, and much of that money is going to online sales.
And a recent survey conducted by Maru Blue commissioned by Staples Canada ( Staples.ca ) shows that Canadians are planning to shop more on Black Friday than even on Boxing Day, once considered the top shopping day of the season.
Spending will also drastically change with 69% of Canadians planning to spend under $100 during Black Friday – a significant difference from last year when only 10% said they would be spending the same amount.
And what are the top hits for gifts? Electronics! In fact, Staples Canada is reporting a surge in interest in “technology, gaming essentials and creative kids” items.
This year’s shopping season will also be based on loyalty with those who prefer the Big Box Store experience vs. those who want to support the small businesses and help out neighbourhood institutions. A recent Harris Poll holiday survey conducted on behalf of Mastercard Canada revealed that 78% of Canadians plan to make a conscious effort to be more mindful in where and how they shop this holiday season. The survey revealed that more than three-quarters of Canadian consumers “intend to support small, minority-owned (67%), women-owned (68%), and Black-owned businesses (66%) this year,” noted a recent recent press release, which added that one item that is not on shoppers’ wish list this year is gifts from companies that don’t share their values, with 72% planning to primarily shop from brands that align with their personal values.
The survey also found that 64% of respondents are opting to not give cash as a gift in favour of gift cards, and nearly half (48%) say they plan to ship more gifts to their loved ones’ houses this year to avoid person-to-person contact.
What will Canadians be striving for to bring the holiday spirit back home? Mastercard Canada says that, although things look so different now, nearly half of Canadian shoppers are hoping to update old traditions this year, while the majority of people are looking for a slower-paced holiday season.
And if there’s one good thing coming from all this is the fact the pandemic hasn’t damped our desire to help others. The CPA findings reveal 82% of those surveyed plan to make a charitable donation. Canadians are known to have the biggest heart when it comes to helping out.
“There’s no denying that holiday shopping will look and feel a lot different this year, especially as consumers are shopping with a new perspective and priorities,” said Sukhmani Dev, VP of digital and cybersecurity solutions at Mastercard Canada, in an email release. “Canadians are embracing the holiday season this year with a strong desire to support local businesses and put safety top of mind.”
ONE LAST THING:
“Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals from unknown sellers, as cybercriminals will also expect to turn a profit during the holiday season, even though they are not selling anything, except maybe a bag full of disappointment.”
– Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, on staying safe when shopping online during the holiday season.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020