Headlines·Q & A

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday: Shopping wars

In the holiday shopping wars Cyber Monday may have its retail rival, Black Friday, on the ropes. Mandeep Malik, Assistant Professor of Marketing at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, explains why Cyber Monday's time has come.

Cyber Monday? Black Friday? None of the above?

McMaster University business professor Mandeep Malik talks about the rise of Cyber Monday and the fall of Black Friday. 8:11

Canadians have played with Black Friday for a little while, but now, like a new toy at Christmas, something shiny and new has come along.

And, you don't need to leave your home to get in the game. This year more shoppers are now to expected to spend their dollars on Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday. Online software company Adobe predicts Cyber Monday sales in the U.S. will hit $3 billion. Black Friday sales are expected to be near $2.7 billion.

Mandeep Malik is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business. He says Canadians are already losing interest in Black Friday. The CBC's Conrad Collaco spoke with Malik about his take on the two major American shopping days. 

Mandeep Malik, McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business

Q: Why have shoppers moved so quickly to Cyber Monday?

Black Friday is still finding its feet in Canada. In Southwestern Ontario, the population was, until three or four years ago, pretty habituated to going across the border and getting the deals. Then the retail sector here responded by offering those opportunities and incentives. We saw some shift happening with what was being spent across the border to here. It started growing in influence and the retail value it creates for consumers who felt they were getting great savings on big ticket items.

Then we saw a shift, along came Cyber Monday which became significant because we have transitioned very dramatically into consumption on hand-held devices and mobile phones. There are these new habits getting created. Consumers are sourcing information, processing information and taking action very quickly.

Q: Are shoppers deciding that shopping from home or work on Cyber Monday is a more positive experience than being in the stores on Black Friday?

There are some products that are very easy to buy online.

People see they can order a product, have it shipped, try it on and if I don't like it it's easy to return... That particular convenience that retailers are creating and that peace of mind has consumers jumping on this particular bandwagon.

It's very segment specific. People into social media will source their information using social media. They will get feedback from their circle of trust. They will read reviews very quickly, assess and make choices. They are typically under 40. The older shoppers (parents, grandparents) are still shopping in the traditional space. Some segments have more time to step into physical spaces, bricks and mortar, while other segments are crunched for time. 

Q: How much will the dollar affect cross-border Black Friday shopping?

I'm sure it creates some discontent. For the longest while we wondered why we were paying a premium but we also realize our volumes, economies of scale do not exist. Retailers are paying higher costs for duties, shipping, taxes etc. They have to pass those on. If their marketing and promotion costs are spread across more consumers their price can drop significantly. 

At ths point most of us recognize that if the dollar is good it may be worth the trip across the border but if it is not you are better staying home, especially for large items you can't move across the border easily.

Q: So, are you better off shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or just finding something other than shopping to do?

I'll stay at home and wait for the signals from retails and see how they'll prompt me to act. More than likely I'll be in the online space. Just want to avoid that hassle of fighting for a parking spot. I can avoid the lineups and make the decision to buy or not at my own time. And I can return it using Canada Post or what have you. Returns have become so easy. You receive product in a day. It's back in a day.  

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