Are Manitobans shopping locally this Black Friday?
With Black Friday here, Manitobans are entering the busiest shopping season of the year and many of them are opting to buy local.
According to Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, this year’s Black Friday is interesting because there hasn’t been a Black Friday in years without pandemic restrictions.
“Two years ago, we were pretty much in a total lockdown, retail was closed, last year we still had restrictions in place. This year it is reopened,” he said in an interview on Friday.
When it comes to people shopping locally, Davidson said people will still head to the malls and big box stores for Black Friday, but many people will be shopping locally.
He explained that one trend that arose during the pandemic was the importance of supporting local and small businesses.
“I think there’s also been an increased presence and an increased awareness about the importance of supporting small local businesses to make sure that they’re able to survive, as well,” Davidson said.
One local business that is feeling the support this Black Friday is Bump Maternity -- a local Winnipeg store that provides maternity, nursing, and kids clothing.
In a statement, store owner Diane Marius said the shop’s Black Friday sale began on Thursday and so far there have been lots of customers.
“I think people are starting to see the value more and more of small business and what it adds to the community,” the statement said.
Tamarack Clothing -- a Winnipeg store that provides outdoor, travel, and casual apparel -- doesn’t always offer a Black Friday sale, but this year it’s holding one. Store manager Jack Cherepak said the sale has brought in some solid traffic to the shop.
He added that local stores, like Tamarack, can provide customers with “personal service, our wealth of knowledge, and our opinions on what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, and what can work for you in Winnipeg.”
ARE MANITOBANS SHOPPING IN PERSON?
As for whether people are returning to in-person shopping this Black Friday, Davidson said it will be a combination of in-person and online, noting that many brick-and-mortar stores provide e-commerce options.
However, Davidson added that there are still people who want to go out and touch and feel what they are buying.
“I think that’s something that the majority of people, now that the better part of the pandemic is behind us, are wanting to get back to what was normal in the pre-pandemic situation,” he said.
Both Marius and Cherepak said their stores are seeing a good amount of foot traffic.
“Customers coming into the store, we still get quite a few. We get a lot of repeat customers that come to the store,” Cherepak said.
“We do know a lot about the product, and I think that’s why we’ve been around for almost 30 years.”
Davidson said people should shop locally because these are important businesses in the community that employ residents
“Anything that can be done to make those a key part of your community is absolutely critical, and I think most people will recognize the importance of those local businesses,” he said.
FEWER MANITOBANS VISITING USA
What has long been a hot spot to shop for Manitobans isn’t getting the same attention it used to.
Down for American Thanksgiving, Winnipegger Sabina Pehlich is checking out Black Friday deals.
“The border was very quiet but I’m assuming because we have so many good sales back home,” Pehlich said.
She says if it weren't for her boyfriend living in Grand Forks, she wouldn't have made the trip - deterred by the exchange rate and competitive deals in Canada.
Barry Wilfahrt, the president of Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, says Black Friday shopping has changed.
“Typically today is a big shopping day but I think with more and more people shopping online think it may not be as big as it was maybe 15 - 20 years ago,” Wilfahrt said.
He says half a million Canadians would visit North Dakota each year before the pandemic.
This year, he says numbers are down about 40 per cent.
“We’re glad that they’re starting to come back and we are looking forward to getting back to what it was pre-pandemic.”
He says the attention has moved from the mall and big box stores to mom-and-pop shops.
Shoppers have kept Robbyne Sands busy this Black Friday.
The new gift shop owner in downtown Grand Forks guesses one out of every 10 people visiting her shop is from Canada.
“They like to visit the small hometown boutiques when they visit other towns,” Sands said.
She is hoping more Canadians will be drawn to the local shops.
‘’Smaller owned businesses popping up over town. So hopefully Canadians will see that shift as well and will want to shop our small businesses and boutiques from clothing to home store.”
Meanwhile, Pehlich is hoping next year will bring better savings.
“I’m hoping our exchange gets a little better. It’s not the greatest right now that’s for sure,” she said.
However - she expects to be back next year for Thanksgiving.
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