Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day expected to be busier than previous year

Small Business Canada

TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2021 /CNW/ – Retail Council of Canada‘s (RCC) 4th annual Holiday Shopping Survey of over 2,500 Canadians from coast to coast shows that while COVID continues to impact our lives, people are looking forward to returning to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and more gift giving. 

This year’s survey shows that Canadians plan to spend more ($792 in 2021 vs $693 in 2020) and that they plan to start their shopping earlier. More consumers this year are also planning to take advantage of holiday shopping sales than they have previously. Black Friday is expected to be one of, if not the biggest, shopping day of the year.

Supply chain issues facing manufacturers and retailers have been widely reported around the world. As a result, it is anticipated that retail availability of certain items may be tighter than in years past, particularly in late November and December. “Consumers that plan ahead and shop early will increase their chances of finding the products and brands they want for the holiday season. And, with expected labour shortages, shopping early will allow consumers to avoid long line-ups or shipping/delivery delays,” says Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO Retail Council of Canada.

Products categories Canadians plan to spend the biggest portion of their budget on are clothing (which has moved into the top spot in 2021 from second in 2020), food, (which has moved down from first spot in 2020 into second spot this year), toys, and personal electronics. While it is expected that there will be more in-store buying this year, the blend between physical and online shopping will continue to evolve and consumers expect to have more choices in how and where the products they purchase are picked up and delivered.


  • Canadians are planning to begin shopping earlier and more are planning to take advantage of holiday sales and product availability.
    • 30% (vs 23% in 2020) indicated that they planned to shop before November. 
      • Product (availability, shipping time, delivery times) and product selection issues experienced in 2020 are driving an earlier planned start to holiday shopping.
    • Based on survey results, consumers indicated that November would remain the busiest shopping month.
      • 36% of consumers indicated that they planned to begin their 2021 holiday shopping in November.
    • 43% (vs 41% in 2020) plan to shop on Black Friday, 35% (vs 34% in 2020) plan to shop on Cyber Monday and 34% (vs 32% in 2020) plan to shop on Boxing Day.
  • Holiday spending intentions are higher than last year.
    • Canadians are planning to spend $792 (vs $693 in 2020), largely driven because the negative financial impacts of the pandemic have dropped significantly, and they are planning more get-togethers this season.
    • Looking at historical actual holiday spending patterns, it is projected that actual spend this year could well exceed $800.
  • In-store shopping will increase but online will continue to be strong, emphasizing once again the importance for retailers to provide seamless experiences across their selling channels.
    • 63% (vs 58% in 2020) of total purchases are expected to be in store this year and 37% (vs 42% in 2020) will be online.
      • Pre-pandemic in 2019, 72% of total purchases were planned to be in-store and 28% online. 
  • Supporting local retailers continues to be important to Canadians.
    • 78% feel it is important to shop locally, with 81% of those respondents saying it is especially important to support local retailers that have suffered due to lockdowns.
  • Product categories that Canadians will spend the most on have shifted, with clothing taking top spot this year, surpassing food, alcohol, and candy that has dropped to second spot
    • Top categories are: clothing (16% vs 15% in 2020), food, alcohol, candies or sweets for entertaining (12% vs 19% in 2020), toys (10% vs 10% in 2020) and personal electronics (8% vs 8% in 2020).    


  • Concerns have shifted since last year on all aspects of holiday shopping. This year the top concerns are that stores will be crowded (44% vs 38% in 2020) and that popular products will be overpriced (44% vs 35% in 2020).
  • Holiday sales and promotions (50%) and free shipping (49%) have the most influence on where Canadians will choose to shop.
  • More Canadians are planning on purchasing gifts for others this year (80% vs 74% in 2020).
  • Gift cards will likely account for 16% (vs 21% in 2020) of Canadians’ holiday spending budgets in 2021.
    • In 2020 most gift cards were bought from restaurants and bars, followed by big box retailers. 
  • The mix of retailers consumers intend to shop with will likely be broader in 2021. Most significant differences include:
    • Big box (53% vs 46% in 2020), clothing (46% vs 36% in 2020), food beverage and grocery (35% vs 42% in 2020), toys and games (34% vs 29%) department stores (30% vs 25% in 2020), electronics (29% vs 24% in 2020), sporting, hobby and music (24% vs 19% in 2020) and home furnishing 7% vs 6% in 2020). 


  • Ontario: Ontarians are estimating that they will spend $863 this holiday season vs the national average of $792.
  • Quebec: While fewer Quebecers report that their financial wellbeing has been impacted by the pandemic, they are also planning to spend the least this holiday, $565 vs the national average of $792, and are more likely to spend on themselves during the holiday vs the rest of Canada. Quebecers are also more likely to shop at toy and games retailers. Quebecers are less likely to shop on Boxing Day (24% vs 34% in the rest of Canada). Quebecers have historically been less likely to plan and set budgets ahead of time for holiday spending.
  • Atlantic: While Maritimers’ planned spending is at $807 vs the national average of $792, they also plan to spend more on gifts for others (vs themselves) at 84% vs the national average of 80%.
  • Manitoba / Saskatchewan: The estimated average spend is $692 vs the national average of $792. They also say they will spend more on gifts for others (vs themselves) at 83% vs the national average of 80%.
  • Alberta: Albertans estimate they plan to spend $869 this year vs the national average of $792.
  • British Columbia: On average, respondents in BC plan to spend $958 vs the national average of $792.

About the Survey

The comprehensive 155-page survey was conducted for Retail Council of Canada by Leger and covers Canadians’ perceptions on how the pandemic has affected their financial wellbeing, when, where, and how they plan to shop, what they plan to buy, how promotions are affecting their purchase decisions, and general sentiment about holiday shopping. The report also reviews how these planning shopping behaviours vary by category and region across the country. The survey was conducted online between August 12, 2021 and August 24, 2021 in both English and French with a sample size of 2,505 and a nationally representative sample to the Canadian population of 18+. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The full survey can be found at:

About Retail Council of Canada

Retail is Canada’s largest private sector employer. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association that represents small, medium and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants.

SOURCE Retail Council of Canada

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