Black Friday deals may not be what they seem, retail expert warns

Shoppers across the GTA lined up before dawn to take advantage of Black Friday deals. But are they really getting the lowest prices?

Prices actually fall in the week following Black Friday

Black Friday began to take hold in Canada after 2008, when retailers were trying to find ways to lure consumers back into stores after the global recession hit. (John Fitzhugh/Associated Press)

Black Friday has quickly become a hallmark of the holiday shopping season in Canada, and consumers across the GTA descended on malls at the crack of dawn this morning. But some retail experts doubt that people will find the best deals today.

Several major shopping centres in the GTA opened early and have extended hours this evening. The Eaton Centre opened its door at 6 a.m., but even before then a line up of dozens, or possibly more than one hundred people, formed outside. 

"It's obviously become a significant aspect of Canadian shopping in a remarkably short period of time," said Doug Stephens, an analyst with Toronto-based Retail Prophet. 

"Five years ago, we knew of Black Friday but we knew of it as an American shopping tradition. Now it has migrated north."

Stephens told CBC's Metro Morning that Black Friday made its way to Canada post-2008, when retailers were desperate to get consumers excited to shop again and get them back into stores after the global economic recession took hold. Black Friday will almost certainly overtake Boxing Day as the premier shopping day in Canada, he added. 

And some Canadians have come to take Black Friday bargain hunting pretty seriously. Two shoppers at the Eaton Centre told CBC News that they made a list of stores they hope to "tackle" and even formulated the most efficient route to take around the mall.

But are shoppers getting deals as good as they may think?

"Statistically, no," said Stephens. "The question has always been: 'Is this the day to get the best deals out there?' and the answer has always been no. In fact, the best time to get deals is immediately following Black Friday. There is a dip in prices immediately after."

Stephens posits the drop in prices is likely due to retailers who still have inventory after Black Friday and are desperate to get rid of it. 

Nonetheless, GTA shoppers can still indulge their retail impulses at malls throughout the region, most of which opened at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 9:30 p.m. or later.