Not all Montreal retailers embrace Black Friday as supply, staff shortages take toll

Black Friday is an American tradition where shoppers rush to the stores early in the morning, their Thanksgiving meals still digesting. It's become a weekend-long event, leading up to Cyber Monday as consumers chase down the best deals.

While 1 shop shuts its doors, others limit deals offered

Terre à soi, an eco-friendly grocer in Montreal’s east end, is closed for Black Friday. (CBC)

On Thursday, while Americans feasted on turkey and pie, it was business as usual at Terre à soi, an eco-friendly grocer in Montreal's east end.

But, as most retail businesses open for crazed Black Friday shoppers eager to jump on once-a-year deals, Terre à soi will be closed.

"Our values are more important than the money we could've made," said Sebastein Guertin, the store's district manager.

In the past, the store has donated Black Friday profits to charity. But this year, due to supply issues and staffing shortages, management decided to go even further.

"The big event that is Black Friday puts a lot of pressure for our suppliers, for the employees, and we want to avoid that," he said.

Clicking on the store's website shows a big "black out" sticker warning customers the store is closed.

"After the last 20 months that we have just gone through, I wanted to listen to my heart — to make a concrete gesture in direct connection with our corporate values," said the store's owner, Annie Martel, in a statement

Staff will still work Friday, decorating the store for the holidays and doing team activities, the statement says.

No big sales at one Montreal shoe store

Sam Papoutsis, owner of Mile End Kicks Shoes store, on the other hand, has no plans to participate in Black Friday —  a once-uniquely American shopping tradition that is now bigger in Canada than Boxing Day.

"For us, it's just another regular day and if we make a couple of extra sales, that's great," he said.

He doesn't foresee much different happening on Black Friday.

"I'm not expecting lineups. I'm just expecting people to come back and shop normally," said Papoutsis.

Sam Papoutsis, owner of Mile End Kicks Shoes store, says it will be business as usual on Black Friday. (CBC)

Francis Mailly, director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada, says it has been a difficult year for many.

"The supply chain and labour issues are two major problems that are putting a lot of pressures on stock for many retailers which, for sure, it could have pressure on prices," said Mailly.

Lingerie chain faces skimpy stock

A representative of the Montreal-based lingerie chain La Vie en Rose says the company has not been immune to the supply-chain crunch that its much larger rivals have felt acutely.

Early on in the pandemic, demand for swimwear plummeted and never really recovered, said Mirna Saffouri, vice-president of marketing.

But that was offset by an uptick in sales of loungewear, and now the retailer is seeing a surge in bras and lingerie again.

"We're very proud to be a Canadian company and design everything in-house," she said, but those designs are then produced abroad.

"We're having some supply chain challenges as we ramp up to the holidays — as many retailers are."

Out of the usual 150 containers, 18 containers haven't arrived yet, which means the company has 12 per cent less stock than usual, she said.

Saffouri said the squeeze means the retailer has changed its selling strategy. Instead of door-crasher deals for Black Friday, the company is focused on making sure customers have an ample selection of goods to choose from.

"We've been less promotional in the last few months, and we've been selling a much more regular price as a way to control inventory levels," she said.

with files from Kwabena Oduro


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