Merchant Advance Blog

Blog Article: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Retail Culture

Friday, November 28, 2014 is, without much doubt, a date circled on the calendars of retailers big and small. The first Friday after the American Thanksgiving celebration has grown into a retail singularity, an event that marks the precipice beyond which retailers may either make or break their holiday season.

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Despite differences in holiday scheduling with our southern neighbours, Canadian retailers are embracing the 28th as a key day for sales and promotional activity as well. In a recent article published by CTV News, Angela Mulholland writes:

“About one in five Canadian retailers are planning a dedicated Black Friday sale this year, and a recent survey from Accenture found that 61 per cent of Canadian shoppers are planning to hit the stores that day too.”

As its scale grows, Black Friday has come to embody some of the stranger elements of North American retail culture and consumer behaviour: long lines of bargain-hunters snaking around stores, people getting into verbal and even physical altercations over common consumer goods, and a general sense of commercialism run rampant tend to be highlighted by its presence as a big-box-friendly, high-volume, high-intensity marker on the approach to the holiday season.

Where do small businesses fit into the explosion of retail and e-commerce growth that Black Friday has come to embody? Since 2010, small and independent businesses have benefited from the establishment of a companion event on the Black Friday weekend, dubbed Small Business Saturday. Engineered by American Express, this event gives a name and a face to the many local brick-and-mortar retailers who might otherwise be out-competed by sales from big-box stores. It encourages consumers to think and shop locally, and is not even limited to one weekend of the year: the Twitter hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday has been widely adopted by social media as a way for local businesses to engage in new promotions and dialogue with customers online every week. Largely free from the sense of door-crashing urgency that its Friday counterpart exhibits, Small Business Saturday has seen success as a vehicle for independent business promotion.

Will your business be participating in Black Friday or Small Business Saturday? Do you expect the coming weekend to have a significant effect on your business for the remainder of the year? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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