Toronto malls packed on 2nd-busiest shopping day of the year
Tap, foreign card purchases helping Saturday beat Black Friday
Toronto's shopping malls were busy during the last weekend before Christmas as pressure mounts on last-minute holiday shoppers.
"The stores are crazy busy, especially this weekend and the days leading up to Christmas," said Kate Chippindale, marketing manager at the Drake General Store.
Canada's largest debit and credit processor says Canadians have already shown a willingness to spend money this holiday season.
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"Canadian consumers remain confident," said Rob Cameron, chief product officer at Moneris. "I think they're also staying at home more and spending more [at the mall]."
Cameron said his company, which sees a third of all debit and credit transactions across the country, noticed spending has been up about 4.5 per cent during the first half of December over last year. Ontario is experiencing a shopping increase of 8 per cent compared to last year, Cameron added.
"[Saturday], if history repeats itself, will beat [Black Friday]," Cameron said. "It should be the second-busiest shopping day of the year after the 23rd," when people are buying last minute gifts and loading up on groceries.
"Tap's up 140 per cent, year over year. So people are tapping their cards and that's moving the lines quicker for people behind them in line, so we think that's a good thing," Cameron said.
The weak Canadian dollar, which currently sits below 72 cents US in the midst of its second worst year ever, is another factor helping to reel in more customers.
What we're hearing from retailers is they're a little worried for a lack of snow.- Rob Cameron, Moneris chief product officer
"We're also seeing American consumers coming across [the border]. We saw a 12 per cent increase in foreign cards spent into Canada."
Some of the "winning categories" this year are electronics and women's clothing, Cameron noted. But even with the boost in activity Saturday, which he estimated to be 5 per cent higher over last year, retailers say they are still waiting for the white stuff to attract more shoppers.
"What we're hearing from retailers is they're a little worried for a lack of snow," Cameron said. "We really need some more cold days like [Saturday] in Toronto to drive people and put them in that holiday frame of mind to go buy some coats and boots."
With files from Ali Chiasson