Some lineups, but no crowds, for Black Friday in N.S.
With doors opening at 8 a.m., some shoppers did line up early at Best Buy in Dartmouth Crossing, hoping to snag Black Friday deals in person.
With about 50 shoppers waiting to be among the first to head inside, it certainly did not look like the crowds of the past.
It was, however, busier than last year - when lines were non-existent.
“Funnily enough, I came just for a phone case,” laughs Matthew Nickerson, “and then came in and seen all the deals, so I may end up buying more things that what I need to today.”
Some shoppers say they are feeling more comfortable with shopping in-store this year.
“Because I feel that I can confidently say that we're in the eighties percent of double vaccinated,” says Anthony Wiseman, “that is safer than it was when we were at the height of this, in May even.”
Retailers like Best Buy have added new shopping services during the pandemic - catering to customer comfort levels.
“They can still of course come in and shop but now we also do online offering, ship direct to customer,” says store lead Luke Gallant, “and as well they can shop from home and pick up later in-store.”
That’s one example of how the pandemic has changed how Canadians shop - although there are signs of a cautious return to the way things used to be.
According to PWC’s 2021 Canadian holiday outlook, while 53 per cent of those surveyed still expect the pandemic to negatively affect their shopping, 59 per cent plan to spend holiday shopping time in-store this year.
Consumers also expect to spend more than they did in 2020 for the holidays, at an average of $1,593.
“I do feel more comfortable out and about this year than last year, most definitely,” says shopper Joanne Walker, “I think we're a bit more protected this year too, right.”
That kind of sentiment is something the owner of the Coconut Creek boutique likes to hear - during what is still a difficult time.
“Black Friday is for businesses that are in the black,” says Tammy Flynn, “and unfortunately for small business this year, that hasn't happened.”
Flynn says her shop can't afford to put on Black Friday deals this year. She credits her background in accounting with getting her through several pandemic shutdowns. Her staff also agreed to be laid off for a period, and then returned to work when the store could re-open.
But she says the shop is still trying to recover, even as it now faces the added challenge of supply chain shortages and delays.
“So we really try to fill our shelves with local and they can supply us right now so they're getting all our space,” says Flynn.
“They've had a tough 18-19 months,” says business professor Ed McHugh.
He says while Black Friday deals in Canada have never compared to those offered in the U.S. – recent hard times means discounts on this side of the border are even less deep.
He believes while some consumers may return to in-person purchasing - online shopping will remain a dominant trend.
“And even the smaller mom and pop operations have got to figure out, do they want to compete in that e-commerce world,” says McHugh, “but ecommerce is a big part of Black Friday.”
McHugh hopes marginal improvement this year - will lead to better times ahead next year.
A hope shared by Tracy Flynn, who hopes shoppers will support local businesses more than ever – to help them weather whatever happens next with COVID-19.