Is Black Friday different “online” from “offline”? Are shoppers really winning in the end with Brick & Mortar?

Every year Canadian retailers work harder than ever to stand out from the rest to capture shoppers attention during one of the most competitive shopping periods of the year and bingo, yes that’s Black Friday. After analyzing more than 257 retailers on Shopbot, it may be surprising to some that around 7 out of 10 retailers will start preparing for next year’s Black Friday the second this one is over. It can easily be a one year preparation process, with so much at stake.

Black Friday is one of the biggest massive events that has forever rocked the retail industry. But how massive? Well, let’s say e-commerce retailers depend more on Black Friday than you think. There’s no day in the year quite like it besides Boxing Day. The traffic made on these single days is what most retailers make in a whole month.


Quick Shopbot Fact  “1 in 5 Canadians on are intending to spend more than $350 this Black Friday and mostly on electronics.” 

Shopbot survey data collected from Nov 1st-Nov 20th 2016

So now let’s take for instance, they don’t joke around with their Black Friday preparation. According to Google Trends, their two biggest peaks in user’s interest are always the same year after year: Black Friday and Boxing Day. In addition, a new small peak has popped up in the last 2 years seen in Amazon’s Popularity trend below. This is thanks to their new Prime Day event in July, the summer twist to Black Friday.

Now, you might ask does national interest for a brand on Google’s search engines translate into consumers flooding to their website. Well, the graph below provided by SimilarWeb speaks for itself. Amazon estimated traffic received during these events last year beats any day of the year with:

  • 3.9 Million+ visits during Black Friday on
  • 4.0 Million+ visits during Boxing Day on
  • 4.3 Million+ visits during Prime Day on

Now, take Best Buy as another example, another well-established retailer in the Black Friday and Boxing Day industry in Canada. Best Buy is both an online retailer and Brick & Mortar store who capitalizes on the two shopping events. Before 2005, the Boxing Day event used to be their single most popular event of the year but with their recent efforts over the years to join the Black Friday frenzy, Best Buy’s Black Friday event is now one of the top 3 biggest sales event in Canada.

So needless to say that when it comes to preparation for the big day, marketers spend their time analyzing extensively consumer trends and the different angles to effectively reach their audience at the right moment. That’s what we call “shopping micro moments”.

Online Shopping Micro Moments

Shoppers interest for Black Friday begins with the second or that micro moment, when the “desire to buy” transforms itself into an actual search. That first interaction of ordinary shoppers with the online world shapes in fact the whole retail industry, notably the online Black Friday industry. Where, opening hour trends and price drops are actually linked to shoppers’ peak in interest from coast to coast.

“No wonder, the online industry is more aligned with its audience than brick and mortar” – Monika H., Sales Director in Shopbot Canada

When the concept of Black Friday first arrived in Canada back in 2008, it came with it’s established opening time at 12:01 on D-Day. But with the ever growing popularity of Black Friday, the demand for earlier deals during longer periods has become mainstream. Just Amazon alone has gone from a 3-day event in 2015 to host a full 12 days of Black Friday deals this year. is the N°1 place where Canadians head out just before Black Friday starts. Shoppers come to us in search of the best deals, to do their online research and find the hottest deals with the greatest price drops. The graph below shows Shopbot’s top hourly peaks in traffic from the past 8 Black Fridays starting from 2008 till 2015.

There is no doubt that Canadians are starting their price comparison research earlier each year. And when there’s interest, retailers will follow. The evolution of hourly peaks in traffic during Black Friday period has clearly shifted from the classic midnight opening time to become a Black Thursday event with 6 hours ahead of time. Some retailers are taking advantage of this fact and taking it a step further by hosting a whole week of Black Friday sales or even a whole month (yup, Amazon again).

Below is a sample of Canada’s most popular stores, who are no strangers to the Black Friday scene, holding each year one of the biggest Black Friday sales nationwide. We compared the difference in their opening hours to access their Black Friday deals on their website versus brick-and-mortar opening hours. We find the same hourly shift trend starting in Canada’s major retail players, here are the opening hours on Black Friday for major Canadian shops:

*Depending on store location. ** Needs to be confirmed/Based on last year’s data

Our team of shopaholics here at Shopbot didn’t want to stop just there with the investigation, so we decided to continue our research to see what other differences existed between the online Black Friday versus the Brick & Mortar Black Friday. That’s why we came up with our Top 3 Online Deal Myths.

Top 3 Deal Myths BUSTED

Myth #1 | Better deals can be found in brick and mortar stores than online

In order to demystify this myth, our entire team has been comparing online deals versus brick-and-mortar deals every day since Black Friday pre-sales have started this year. And guess what? The verdict is out on Click versus Brick and Click versus Click:

“Either they are exactly the same online versus offline, either there’s a more interesting price drop online. From Best Buy to The Source, the trend is the same” – Shopbot Team

Find below a quick sample of Best Buy’s Pre-Black Friday Deals online vs offline:

THE PLUS SIDE: The appearance of “web exclusive deals” has been gaining more momentum than ever. Where it’s more advantageous from a retailer’s point of view to save in costs by shipping items directly to the consumer. Plus, shoppers get to shop in the comfort of their own home.

Myth #2 | In-store claims of “Lowest Price Guaranteed” are valid during shopping peaks

More often than not, shoppers tend to overlook the simple catch-phrase of “Lowest Price Guaranteed” during shopping events like Black Friday. But they shouldn’t as this is the only period of the year when price-match policies are not applicable.

We conducted a survey this month to ask our shoppers what do they think of Shopbot and how do we help them during Black Friday. Here’s a tag cloud that sums up all their thoughts:

Myth #3  | Stock quantities are the same online versus offline

When a deal is hot, like really hot it will sell like hot pancakes. So, what’s the best way to secure the deal before it goes out of stock? Well, if you decide to go directly to the store, it might be a risky move where you might end up empty handed.

With searches conducted in multiple cities from Toronto to Vancouver within hours of the release of a hot deal, you’ll notice how quickly the in-store pickup option will turn all of sudden into “out of stock”.

Final note from the Shopbot Team ❤️

We would love to hear your thoughts and stories, feel to write to us in our contact form below. So now, what are you waiting for? Head down to to grab the best deals cause ‘tis Black Friday Week has already started.

For more than 10 years, Shopbot has been analyzing Canadian shopping behavior trends with emphasis on demographics and consumer interests. Shopbot’s data from the past Black Friday events reveal certain major Canadian trends when it comes to shopping behavior and the retail industry. All research was conducted using Shopbot’s collected data from 2008 till 2015. All complementary info such as opening hours and prices were taken directly from retailer websites, ads and flyers.