Winnipeg shoppers return to stores for Black Friday deals, but many Manitobans say they plan to shop locally

The unofficial kickoff to holiday shopping is one of the biggest retail days of the year.

Black Friday bargain-hunters were out in full force across Winnipeg, and many were happy to be shopping in-store and not only hunting for deals online this year.

Hector Felix isn’t big into online shopping, so to be out scoring big savings on Black Friday deals again is a big win.

“I’m not too good like that, I’m an old dinosaur. I just go the old-fashioned way,” Felix said.

He spotted lines outside Canadian Tire by CF Polo Park and had to wait upwards of 30 minutes at one of the city’s The Brick locations.

Diego Santos saved a few hundred dollars when he purchased a monitor and gaming PC at a Winnipeg Best Buy on Black Friday. He says the deals were fair, “but not game-changing.” (CBC)

The deals were fair “but not game-changing,” said Diego Santos.

He saved a couple hundred dollars on a gaming PC at Best Buy and price-matched a monitor through Amazon.

It’s a different look compared to Black Friday last year when Manitoba’s public health restrictions limited in-person shopping to essential goods only.

This forced deal hunters to buy online or collect their purchases via pick up curbside.

“I like this better, going in stores, talking to people, actually getting what I want. Last year didn’t have deals like this but I’m happy I got this stuff,” Santos said.

The Retail Council of Canada said last year’s restrictions dealt a crushing blow to local retailers.

In 2019, Black Friday surpassed Boxing day for sales, and it’s expected to do that again this year as people resume shopping habits.

But the online and curbside options may be here to stay.

“It shifted a lot of demand through online channels and curbside pickup, and that’s still in place. But we have a lot of people excited about returning to stores and looking at products and making decisions in real life as opposed to a computer screen,” said John Graham, director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada’s prairie region.

The biggest worry as the busiest shopping time of the year accelerates toward Christmas is potential disruptions in the supply chain.

“Every retailer has been impacted by supply of products one way or another, either late deliveries, partial deliveries, products simply not being available because of increased global demand. This is not just a Manitoba issue,” Graham said. 

He also said many buyers are also shifting where they spend their money — and looking local.

Graham said in a recent survey, 78 per cent of Manitobans indicated they would shop at small businesses this year.

Small businesses cannot always compete with the deep discounts and door crashers tied to Black Friday, but the survey result is uplifting news to the ears of Olive and Eve Co owner Danniella Brazel.

She sells handmade and curated goods for babies and moms through e-commerce sites like Shopify and Good Local.

Danniella Brazel sells handmade and curated goods for babies and moms through e-commerce sites like Shopify and Good Local through her local business Olive and Eve Co. (Submitted by Danniella Brazel)

Brazel was offering discounts on her products Friday but said she wasn’t expecting any major booms in business.

“For a small business it is hard to want and to actually be able to participate in Black Friday. I think the majority of customers still have this mindset that it’s going to be big savings, half off, and big margins, and that’s just not feasible for a lot of small businesses,” she said.

Instead, Brazel participated in Pink Friday for the second consecutive year.

It’s held the week before Black Friday to give small businesses a boost, and she says its presence is starting to grow on social media.

“It’s a place where small shop businesses can really thrive and the supporters know where to go and they have a day, as opposed to trying to put us against the Walmarts and the big box stores,” she said.

Brazel said she had double the traffic last Friday compared to this Friday, and hopes the push to buy local keeps growing.

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