Get ready for a gangbusters Black Friday

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Attention shoppers: Black Friday is shaping up to be a monster this year.

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Between ever-improving vaccine rates and pent-up demand, consumers are gearing up to jump back into the shopping game with gusto.

The purchasing pandemonium that precedes the holiday season took a turn in 2020 when Black Friday officially became the busiest shopping day of the year in Canada.

Despite being tied to U.S. Thanksgiving — a holiday Canadians celebrated a month ago — Black Friday outstripped both Boxing Day and the Friday before Christmas to become No. 1 last year.

It’s a shopping date that benefits big and small retailers alike.

With Black Friday just two weeks away, we checked in with Marc Hollenberg, Chief Operations Officer at Moneris, to suss out some holiday trends for 2021 spending.

Moneris is Canada’s leading payment processor, so they know exactly when, where and how consumers are spending their money.

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“People are spending more on experience-based gifts already, and we expect that to continue into the holiday season,” said Hollenberg,   listing items such as plane tickets, movie passes, hotel bookings and other in-person experiences and entertainments that have seen big spending jumps this year.

With some restrictions lifted and strong vaccine uptake, experience-based gifts are easy to explain: People want to get together and enjoy doing things with friends and family again, whether that entails travel, dinner in a restaurant, a concert or a day of skiing.

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“We do expect people back in stores this year,” said Hollenberg, “but online shopping is here to stay and that’s going to continue.”

In the U.S., Black Friday sales often launch the night before Thanksgiving Day; because many bricks and mortar stores are closed on the holiday itself, Thanksgiving Day has become the biggest online shopping day of the year south of the border.

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Hollenberg believes shopping will get back to pre-pandemic levels here for Black Friday 2021.

“Last year, at peak volume, we were doing 100 fewer transactions a second than in the past. We’re expecting to get closer to pre-pandemic levels this year, which is 650 transactions a second.”


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Peak volume occurs on Black Friday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time, explained Hollenberg.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Moneris is anticipating shoppers will spend more per transaction, which was also an overall trend for the 2020 holiday shopping season.

The one thing that could be different this year, added Hollenberg, stems from the supply chain issues.

“People may start shopping earlier this year because supplies are short on some things. We encourage people to shop early in case this is an issue,” he said.

“And they should consider gift cards because an item might be out of stock now, but it will come into the stores later.”

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