Edmonton’s downtown business association is encouraging post-holiday shoppers to keep local retailers in mind when bargain hunting following a national survey showing more shoppers head online for deals.
Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said on Boxing Day he did notice a good number of shoppers heading downtown to take advantage of various deals and noted special offers like City Centre offering free parking at their east parkade did a lot to bring more people to the area.
However, he said it’s a challenging time for retailers who have to compete with online options and big box stores.
“If we want to keep good retail in Edmonton — in particular in the downtown core — we have to make sure that we consciously go out there and support those retailers, otherwise we will be shopping online,” he said. “Shopping at a store in your local community — wherever that may be — is important.”
The RedFlagDeals.com survey of 1,000 Canadian consumers released in December said roughly 63 per cent of Boxing Day shoppers would be going exclusively online. More than 90 per cent of respondents said they would be shopping on Boxing Day
This is why the trend for local retailers is to try and offer something different and unique, O’Donnell said.
“You either go for price or you go for the experience,” he said. “Between online and the big box format, it is a tough world out there for any retailer. We really encourage people to shop local and remind people that they vote with their dollar.”
Poppy Barley co-founder Kendall Barber has noticed this shift to online shopping as well.
Boxing Day is among the single largest sales day for the Edmonton-based company, beating out other price-cutting traditions like Black Friday. However, Barber said this year 55 per cent of Poppy Barley’s Boxing Day sales across Canada happened online.
Although the store offered an additional 10 per cent off for in-store prices in Alberta, Barber said many Edmontonians chose to shop online because “it’s quick and easy.”
“As a retailer, Boxing Day provides a strategic post-holiday day to sell-through winter and holiday products,” Barber said.
“We only discount product we’re saying farewell to. Best-selling, iconic pieces always remain at full price. As a result, Boxing Day sales are 50 per cent sale product and 50 per cent regular priced product. Boxing Day is a shopping state of mind — people are ready to shop.”