Toronto shoppers rise early in search of Black Friday discounts

Some shoppers rose before dawn to catch Black Friday deals in Toronto as select stores opened early with sales and discounted merchandise.

In 2016, Black Friday sales surpassed Boxing Day sales in malls across the GTA

About two dozen shoppers lined up to get into Best Buy Canada in Toronto at Dundas Street West and Bay Street, though the store was not hectic in its first hour. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Some shoppers rose before dawn to catch Black Friday deals in Toronto as select stores opened early with sales and discounted merchandise.

At Best Buy Canada on Dundas Street West and Bay Street in Toronto, doors opened at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, with about two dozen shoppers waiting in line outside.

"I thought it would be worse," Matthew Young, an early morning shopper looking for an external hard drive or new laptop at Best Buy, said Friday.

"I've never been to a Black Friday sale before in my life. I just wanted to check it out to see how crazy it was here," he said.

Young, who was prepared for chaos after seeing Black Friday madness in Walmart in the U.S. on television, said the hardest part was taking the TTC to get to the store on the way to his workplace. The crowds in the store were smaller than expected, he said.

"Just getting here was enough," he said.

"Ordinarily, I usually do most of my shopping over the course of the entire season. I don't really target a certain day. But again, I signed up for the Best Buy newsletter blasts, and I saw some good deals so I thought I'd come in before work. Hopefully, I don't get punched in the face like they do in the States."

Black Friday, which comes the day after American Thanksgiving, is viewed as the start to the Christmas shopping season. Retail experts say the momentum for Black Friday has been growing in recent years in Canada.

According to Louise Della Fortuna, senior manager of retail marketing of Cadillac Fairview, Black Friday sales surpassed Boxing Day sales in 2016 in malls across the Greater Toronto Area.

Though the temptation to load up on purchases may be strong, Manulife Bank of Canada issued a statement this week warning people about racking up debt in the holiday season. 

Canadians will "tap, swipe and click their way" through Black Friday and Cyber Monday and into the holiday season under a "cloud of debt," Manulife Bank of Canada said.

The survey said being debt-free is a priority for 64 per cent of Canadians, but household debt-to-income is at record levels. 

Nearly half of Canadians surveyed, or 44 per cent, said they had lowered their debt burden over the past year — but only 31 per cent actually met their debt reduction goals.