Ottawa retailers are jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon this year, hoping to entice local shoppers to stay close to home instead of crossing the border to spend their money.
Today is Black Friday, the day after the American Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year across the United States. It is also the day when many U.S. stores post their lowest prices to draw in customers.
In Canada, the busiest shopping day has traditionally been Boxing Day. But a Canadianized version of Black Friday has steadily caught on in Canada over the past few years and this year many Canadian retailers are stepping up their marketing campaigns and advertised sales.
The change is prompted by the recent easing of restrictions on the amount Canadians can bring back to the United States before they must pay duty.
Most of the big chains, including Best Buy Canada and Future Shop, The Brick, Sears Canada, the Gap Inc. will be incorporating the Black Friday theme to entice shoppers this weekend.
Many Ottawa retailers are also offering deals, though some say they'll take a loss on the day, because their fixed costs remain high compared to their US counterparts.
At the ski store Tommy & Lefebvre, owner Natalie Tommy said she was able to match or beat some of the U.S. Black Friday prices on ski and snowboard boots for her own sale.
Tommy said Canadians now expect a deal on Black Friday, and retailers have to lean on their suppliers to be creative and make it available to them.
"When we started to hear more and more customers, they called us or sent us emails, you know, 'Are you guys doing something for Black Friday?' We really started planning to do something with our suppliers and try to find some special deals for them over the summer," she said.
Not every retailer wants to shout their prices from the rooftop. One shoe retailer told CBC News he was hoping few people would come to his Black Friday sale, even though he advertised it in the paper.
Another retailer advertised his event by email only, calling it a "private party" rather than a "sale" and said he was limiting it to preferred customers.
Lower prices will drive sales: prof
A number of malls, including Bayshore and St. Laurent, have extended their hours today and opened at 7 a.m.
University of Ottawa marketing professor Judith Madill said the longer hours may help create a buzz, but said Canadian retailers are at a disadvantage because Black Friday is a holiday in the U.S., but not here.
Longer hours and ad campaigns also aren't enough to draw customers, she said.
"Hours may help create an event, if it's not backed up by discounting of items consumers are looking for, then that's not going to cut it," said Madill.