Black Friday Travel Costs May Keep Canadians at Home
The question heading into Black Friday is not whether Canadians will save money shopping, but if they'll be going over the border to do it. Last November, 4.2 million Canadians hopped over to the United States, many of them to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving Day deals.
Since 2007, Canadians have been travelling to the U.S. in November in increasing numbers.But in 2012 there may be a change. For one thing, more Canadian retailers are offering deep discounts to compete with their U.S. counterparts. This year has also seen the introduction of more U.S.-based stores across Canada, including the first Marshall's franchises, the discount clothing retailer that opened in Toronto this summer. While the prices at those stores are still higher than in the U.S., their arrival brings more choice as well as more Black Friday-related marketing initiatives aimed at keeping Canadians - and their money - closer to home.
|Yes - I'm heading for the border Thursday night||18 (11.1%)|
|Yes - but only online||31 (19.1%)|
|No - I don't think the deals are worth the hassle||113 (69.8%)|
BLACK FRIDAY CANADA 2012:
5 Things You Shouldn't Buy on Black Friday
Black Friday Sales: The Big Guide to Deals, Stores and Opening Times
Where to Find the Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
Survival Tips for Black Friday 2012
Black Friday Shopping Strategies
Walmart Black Friday Starts at 8 pm Thursday
Also playing a role this year will be new Canadian regulations that allow a higher amount of merchandise to be brought back into the country without being levied a duty. Canadians who spend one night can return with up to $200 of merchandise and if they spend between two and seven nights can bring back up to $800. Anything above those totals would be subject to a duty tax.
Although those Canadians who venture to the U.S. for Black Friday will be able to return with more goods, they will also incur a greater travel cost because of the overnight requirements. According to the travel website Vacay.ca (for which I am the managing editor), the expected cost of travel to Buffalo, New York for a Canadian couple over Black Friday weekend is $371.92. That cost includes gas, tolls, tips, food and two nights of accommodations at a three-star hotel selected on an opaque search on Hotwire.com.
"I've gone to Buffalo the last two years but this year I might pass. It's a lot of aggravation at the galleria there and the traffic's a nightmare. I've seen some of the sales in Toronto and they seem almost as good," said Melanie Richards, a Torontonian who likes to get her holiday shopping done early.
The mall and border traffic are major issues for Canadians to contend with. According to statistics from the Peace Bridge, the busiest U.S.-Canada automobile crossing, traffic far exceeds the normal traffic volume during the Black Friday weekend. In 2011, 22,845 total vehicles travelled across the bridge from Ontario to New York State from the Thursday of U.S. Thanksgiving to the Saturday, and 9,800 automobiles crossed back into Canada over the bridge on the Sunday of that weekend. In 2010, 22,405 total vehicles went over the Peace Bridge while 10,335 automobiles returned on the Sunday after U.S. Thanksgiving.
With the Canadian dollar at roughly par since 2007, you'd think Canadians would have Black Friday 2012 circled on their calendars. But that's not the case, according to a Harris/Decima poll commissioned by CIBC. The recently published poll shows that only 9% of Canadians say they intend to make a purchase this weekend. A low percentage considering the hype surrounding Black Friday.