Risky tactic in retail world

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Whatever gets them in the door: you can’t blame the retail sector for campaigns that will appeal to shoppers. But Canadians in recent years might have wondered if they’d been mysteriously transported south of the border during the time leading up to American Thanksgiving. All of a sudden we too have ‘Black Friday’ offerings.

The timing is prime. Just like the aim in the U.S., it comes when people are getting revved up for Christmas shopping.

But there can be drawbacks to anything that relies on gimmickry, and store owners probably can’t afford to indulge in tactics that could turn off prospective customers.

One Canadian retail expert commented last week on the trend in an article by The Canadian Press. Steven Tissenbaum of Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management said Canadian stores, rather than hoping to emulate their U.S. counterparts, should concentrate on offering the best service possible. Not only that but stores in this country can’t manage the incredible deals seen south of the border – an inequity that irks everyone in Canada especially during times when the loonie flies close to par with the U.S. dollar.

We hear reports of the mayhem that can occur in American big box stores on Black Friday, the “doorbuster deals” that have occasionally resulted in people being trampled.

In this very province last Friday, with some of the giants advertising thus, there were reports of extremely disgruntled shoppers in the Halifax region. They’d gone to stores advertising blockbuster deals only to learn that the item they sought was in limited quantities, so they went home empty-handed.

Considering the shifting ground we’re noting underway in the retail landscape, with online purchases increasingly eating into the sales traditionally commanded by malls and downtown shops, disappointment is the last thing a store wants to risk. Too much of that and there’s a chance some shoppers will go in another direction.

Organizations: Canadian Press, Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management

Geographic location: U.S., Canada, Halifax

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