British Columbia

Black Friday sales in Surrey fight to keep shoppers from crossing border

Retailers in Surrey are fed up at losing out on business to Black Friday sales south of the border, and are holding their own sales this year to compete.

Retailers in Surrey hope a low dollar and local sales will keep shoppers in Canada for Black Friday

Holiday shopping last November at Target. Canadians boosted their cross-border shopping 72 per cent from 2006 to 2012. (John Fitzhugh/Associated Press)

Retailers in Surrey are fed up at losing out on business to Black Friday sales south of the border, and are holding their own sales this year to compete.

"It really drives me crazy when there are such long line-ups at the U.S. border for consumers searching for the best deal across the States," Surrey Board of Trade C.E.O. Anita Huberman told The Early Edition's reporter, Jesse Johnston.

"They're spending money in the U.S. They're not spending money locally at local retailers and shops and as a result our economy suffers."

To fight that, shops at the Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey will open at 8 a.m. on Friday, and a two-week sale will end on Sunday.

Stores at the Guildford Town Centre in Surrey are holding Black Friday sales to compete with sales south of the border. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"We see this as a great opportunity for us," said general manager Bill Brember.

Petra Barker with Guildford Town Centre said local stores have a big advantage for Canadians — no border line-ups.

"Even based on last year, we had traffic which was close to what we would do on Boxing Day. I think shoppers want to stay here, they want to support our economy," Barker said.

Huberman said Black Friday sales are catching on in Canada, and are becoming better established with both retailers and consumers.

Huberman also said with long border waits, and a low Canadian dollar shoppers would have to find a pretty impressive deal to make driving to Washington State worthwhile. 

However, retail analyst David Ian Gray said for some, it's more about the experience.

"It's not just a for a day trip to shop, but also to make an event out of it, to go down, catch the Seahawks game if it's out here in B.C.," he said.

Even still, Grey expects to see that number go down slightly this year, because of the low Canadian dollar and stores like Target, which have recently opened stores in Canada.

Retailers in Surrey hope long lines at the border will encourage Canadian shoppers to choose to shop local on Black Friday. (Richard Lam/Canadian Press)

Still, several hotels in Bellingham are reporting no vacancy due to Canadians planning to stay the night, and Rene Morris with Bellis Fair Shopping Centre said she's been fielding calls from Canadians who want to know what time the mall will open.

"If the phone calls are any indication of our friends to the north, and who's coming, they have been calling for two weeks," she said.

Jesse Johnston covers stories South of the Fraser. He can be heard on CBC Radio's The Early Edition every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.

With files from the CBC's Jesse Johnston.

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