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Black Friday vs Boxing Day: Which is better?

Black Friday and Boxing Day are Canada's biggest sale events of the year. But which one offers the best deals?

We all enjoy great sales, with events such as Amazon Prime Day, Cyber Monday, Disney Plus Day and Bay Days gaining mass followings for offering special deals throughout the year. Without a doubt, the 2 biggest sale events in Canada are Black Friday and Boxing Day. Let’s break down Black Friday vs Boxing Day to see which offers better deals.

Black Friday vs Boxing Day: Which is better?

According to Finder’s latest research, 31% of Canadian adults (around 9.6 million people) plan to shop end-of-year sales like Black Friday in 2021. Participation between men and women is expected to be fairly equal, with younger shoppers aged 18–24 being the most likely to take advantage of sales.

Black Friday sales

Past price-tracking research has shown that there are genuinely good tech deals during both Black Friday and Boxing Day. But for home appliances, Boxing Day may be your best bet.

A 2019 Finder study tracked 24 products across the UK’s 6 most popular retail categories, looking at 4 retailers for each product.

Across all products, there was an average price reduction of 5.7% on Black Friday compared to the prior 12 weeks. A quarter (25%) of the products tracked actually increased in price on Black Friday.

Fashion fared the best, with an average price drop of 15.5% across 16 price points. This was almost twice as much as the second best-performing category, video games, which dropped in price by an average of 8.1%. The worst category was household appliances, which saw an average price increase of 1.6%.

Shop the best Black Friday deals

Boxing Day sales

While the popularity of Black Friday continues to grow, it doesn’t necessarily take away the hype of Boxing Day sales. For Canadians, these end-of-year sales are more culturally entrenched.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-store shopping was limited on Boxing Day in 2020. But the number of online Boxing Day sales continues to grow exponentially.

Check out our guide on Boxing Day sales to scope out this year’s best deals on the items you want.

Where did Black Friday come from?

Celebrated on the Friday after the US Thanksgiving, Black Friday is a massive sale event known often considered to be the kick starter of the Christmas retail season.

A common misconception is that the name “Black Friday” refers to retailers operating at a loss (“in the red”) throughout the year and getting “back in the black” during the holiday shopping season.

However, “Black Friday” actually dates back to the 1950s, referring to the difficulty endured by the Philadelphia police as they struggled to keep crowds in order during the weekend of the US Army-Navy football game. Because shoplifting, in particular, was a problem, retailers adopted the term.

What’s the difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Black Friday is often confused with Cyber Monday, a primarily online sale event that takes place the Monday following the US Thanksgiving.

Unlike Black Friday, which spans the entire retail sector, Cyber Monday is geared towards ecommerce. This means that online stores offer special sales, and many physical stores offer deals available exclusively online.

Pros of shopping on Black Friday
  • Shop a long time before Christmas
  • Great sales on gamer gear and electronics
  • Black Friday is recognized in the US and other countries – shop outside of Canada
  • Enjoy store-wide discounts
  • Get big brand items for less
Cons of shopping on Black Friday
  • Some stores offer low discounts
  • High-demand items like gaming consoles sell out fast
  • Some stores mark up items before Black Friday to make discounts look more attractive
  • COVID-19 may cause supply issues

Where did Boxing Day come from?

Boxing Day is always on December 26, the day after Christmas Day. Boxing Day is a state holiday in some parts of Canada, like Ontario, but not every province recognizes it as such.

Even so, retailers nationwide observe Boxing Day in a last-ditch attempt to capitalize on the holiday spending craze.

Many assume Boxing Day reflects the idea of packing away holiday decorations in boxes after Christmas. However, it’s believed to come from an old tradition of wealthy estate owners giving their staff boxes of gifts to share with family over the holidays.

Another explanation is that Boxing Day comes from a different tradition in which churches collected money for the poor in boxes and distributed the funds on December 26.

Pros of shopping on Boxing Day
  • Typically higher percentage discounts than Black Friday
  • Great for fashion sales
  • Score steep discounts on end-of-year inventory clearouts
  • Boxing Day is recognized in the UK, Australia and other countries – shop outside of Canada
  • Get big brand items for less
Cons of shopping on Boxing Day
  • US retailers don’t recognize Boxing Day
  • Occurs after Christmas – too late for holiday gifts
  • Some stores mark up items before Boxing Day to make discounts look more attractive
  • COVID-19 may cause supply issues

Black Friday vs Boxing Day: Our final verdict

Which event wins in the great Black Friday vs Boxing Day showdown? On Black Friday, we expect to see more sitewide sales, although percentage discounts may be slightly lower than on Boxing Day. In particular, Black Friday is a great time to load up on gamer gear and electronics.

However, you can expect to see more impressive deals on Boxing Day. As retailers are trying to get rid of an abundance of stock to make room for the next year’s inventory, thousands of items are marked down. It’s not impossible to find discounts of up to 80% off.

But that doesn’t mean that Boxing Day sales are only good for old items and summer clothing. With fierce competition between retailers, you can still find big-ticket items on sale such as designer bags, Dyson vacuums and Apple AirPods.

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