For the past few years, the Canadian Retail calendar has been marked by two key promotional events which take place during an extraordinarily condensed period of time: Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Boxing Week. Not surprisingly, the Consumer Technology sector has typically been a key focal point of attention and spending for many shoppers for both of these events. As Black Friday has increased in importance, one key question asked by both manufacturers and retailers is the impact of that shift on the proceeding weeks and particularly on Boxing Week.
In examining the 2016 holiday sales results, for the first time since Black Friday became a phenomenon in Canada, the sales for that week (Nov 20-26) surpassed Boxing Week (Dec 25-31) by 5%, making it the most important sales week of the year in Consumer Technology. From a share perspective over the past four years (2013-2016), if we break the 6-week holiday season into two week chunks, the share of dollars spent in the first two weeks (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) increased by 4 points to 38%, the share of dollars spent in the ensuing two weeks declined by 6 points to 24% and the share of dollars spent in the final two weeks of the holiday season (which includes Boxing Week) increased by 2 points to 38%. So indeed, over a relatively short period of time, Black Friday has eclipsed Boxing Week in the Consumer Technology sector, driven primarily by a sharp drop in sales in the interim weeks.
From a growth perspective versus 2015, dollar sales over the six-week holiday season grew by 3%. That growth was fueled during the first two weeks of 9% and during the last two weeks of 6%, while the interim two weeks declined by 9%. Televisions and Notebook Computers were the key growth drivers increasing by 21% and 36% respectively and together accounting for 57% of the dollar gain versus last year. Other key growth engines included Stereo Headphones (+20%), Health & Fitness Trackers (+16%), Mobile Power (+24%) and Monitors (+41%). Amongst declining categories, Tablets decreased by 15% and accounted for 40% of the overall decline. Other key categories contributing declines to the marketplace were MP3 Players (-31%), Point & Shoot Cameras (-31%), and Streaming Media Players (-21%).
Black Friday is certainly here to stay and appears poised to become the dominant event during the holiday season; but at the same time, the heritage of Boxing Week in Canada cannot be underestimated as it too has grown in share and importance in 2016. Seems like a winning situation long-term for the Canadian technology shopper.