A lot can change in 12 months. Last year, consumers yearned for a “normal” holiday season, including traditions like mall shopping, gatherings with friends, and family dinners. At the beginning of 2022 Canadians were largely ready return to normalcy after four long covid waves. This sentiment drove demand for experiential purchases as well as products that enabled social interaction. In late spring, Canadians had started to feel the impact of strong economic pressures. As a result, sales pulled back. Q3 was the first sign of softness as retail tracked by NPD declined 1%. Unusually warm weather, soaring inflation, and the reality of yet another covid winter cast a dark shadow over the upcoming holiday shopping season. Amazon’s Prime week did very little to bolster retail sales after 2 years of strong growth. During the 8-weeks ending November 24, retail sales in Canada declined by 9% in both dollars and units. This trend continued on Black Friday, which was once the official kick-off for the holiday shopping season, as sales declined 6% vs. 2021.
Despite the softening, holiday 2022 has seen some positive trends:
- Consumers have embraced brick-and-mortar retail. Traffic has increased as Canadians started their holiday shopping early. However, despite increased foot-traffic, consumers demonstrated a lack of urgency to purchase.
- Promotions have been plentiful as retailers look for ways to attract cautious consumers.
- Gen Z has embraced retail and has shown a willingness to spend.
– Tamara Szames, Canadian retail industry advisor
Read on for a breakdown of industry-specific insights:
Black Friday started early this year for the Canadian home industry. Deals started the week prior to the big event, and as a result, Black Friday sales were spread over several weeks. Offers were available online to consumers ahead of Black Friday, possibly causing lighter crowds in store (compared to pre-pandemic levels). Promotional items were consistent to Black Friday last year, including air fryers, vacuums, multi-cookers, coffee/espresso makers, toaster ovens, stand mixers, massagers, personal care/grooming items. This year, there was an increased focus on entertainment-oriented housewares, as consumers once again prepared to host holiday parties. Door busters gave consumers great deals on a handful of categories; however, promotional offers aren’t expected to drive sales for the week across most appliance and houseware categories.
– Pam Wood, Canadian home industry analyst
Black Friday promotions in the Canadian beauty industry were stretched over several weeks. Consumers offered comparable online discounts as retailers focused on seamless shopping experiences offering online and ship to home options. Consumers shopped early for the holidays with a sense of exploration – welcoming brand experiences, samples, and consultations when it came to purchasing little luxuries to gift themselves and others. Experiences were also popular, as consumers embraced brick-and-mortar and were eager to test out makeup shades, scents and concentration, as well as different formulations. Still, fragrance was by far the category most consumers picked up to test and explore most often.
When it comes to the apparel industry, consumers continued to shop for brands they know and love. Retailers have shown a penchant for showcasing products that embrace sustainability and social brand positioning. Ecommerce remains popular as many Canadians prefer to shop online for Black Friday deals. That said, retailers are still struggling to balance product inventory as they look to drive cross-channel shopping experiences. Promotions have been modest and have not driven consumer excitement for shopping this year.
– Alecsandra Hancas, Canadian beauty and apparel industry analyst
October was a challenging month for the Canadian toy industry as dollar sales decreased by double digit digits. As we approach the heart of the holiday toy shopping season, 2022 Black Friday sales were down 2%, nearly matching 2021. Strong promotional offers across all segments, including the growing collectibles segment, helped contribute to Black Friday’s relatively positive performance. While we did see great deals offered to shoppers, average selling prices continued to increase, showing that despite economic uncertainty, parents are willing to spend on big ticket items which are at the top of their children’s wish list.
– Jeff Bowes, Canadian toy industry analyst
Black Friday sales were softer than we had hoped for when it comes to the Canadian technology industry. Dollar sales declined by 6% for the week and units were down 8%. The main drivers of dollar declines this week include some of the largest revenue generating categories in tech. Computers and TVs were responsible for over half of the total dollar losses for the week. On the positive side, the top dollar growth categories included tablets, sound bars and headphones. Item trackers, smart locks and mobile phone accessories were some of our fastest growing categories for the week. Preliminary results for Cyber Week are also looking to be lower than last year.
– Chris Brugman, Canadian technology analyst