* More retailers launch Black Friday sales in Canada
* Much smaller lines, discounts than in United States
* Growing awareness of Cyber Monday
TORONTO, Nov 25 Retailers brought U.S.-style
Black Friday sales to Canada in bigger volumes than ever before
this year, wooing domestic shoppers seeking the deals they see
on U.S. television and cross-border shopping trips.
There were occasional line-ups and widespread enthusiasm,
but little of the madness that accompanies the traditional
start of the U.S. holiday shopping season. Canada celebrates
Thanksgiving in October, and most people work this week.
"Obviously, no one has been pepper sprayed or shot yet.
It's our version of Black Friday," said Kaitie Rosen, referring
to a shopper at a Los Angeles-area Walmart who allegedly used
pepper spray on a throng of shoppers on Thursday night.
Rosen, 25, joined about 20 other shoppers in a line outside
cosmetics retailer Sephora at Toronto's Eaton Centre shortly
before the store opened.
About half the outlets at the downtown mall were
advertising weekend or one-day sales, although few were branded
"Black Friday." By mid-morning, traffic was heavy for office
hours, but lighter than on an average weekday evening.
Sephora was one exception, with about 50 shoppers in line
for most of the morning, lured by steep markdowns on selected
items. Another was Walt Disney Co's Disney Store, which
opened at 6 a.m. to heavy traffic, as it does every year on
Black Friday. One shopper said she skipped work and waited two
hours to buy toys for her grandchildren.
A handful of other stores opened at 8 a.m., including the
Apple Inc is offering annual discounts on coveted
products like the iPad 2, and one greeter said about 10 were
waiting when the doors opened. Traffic looked to be in line
with Black Friday last year, he said.
Some shoppers were underwhelmed. Janel Slater, a nurse,
headed to big-box electronics retailer Best Buy after
her night shift to snag a laptop, but the store was closed.
"It's supposed to be the sale day. I don't understand how
you have a sale opening at ten o'clock," she complained.
The deals Slater sees in Canada are "not good, not even
remotely close," to those in the United States. But it's still
not worth the time and expense to cross the border, she said.
Some retailers that did open early were likely
"The first hour was really, really slow. Like no
customers," said one worker at H&M , who said traffic
at the Swedish fashion group's store was nothing like Boxing
Day, the December holiday when Canada's post-Christmas sales
Most Canadians do not have time off to shop this week, but
that no longer deters retailers from promoting Friday or even
Friday morning sales. Gap Inc's Banana Republic's 40
percent off sale dropped to 25 percent by afternoon.
The Canadian operations of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
branded the weekend's sales "Black Friday" this year, for the
"Our customer research has shown us that there's a very
high level of awareness around branding the events as Black
Friday," said Rosalyn Carneiro, spokeswoman for Walmart Canada.
"Because of our proximity to the U.S., Canadian consumers are
aware of the name."
Sears Canada , which ran its first Black Friday
price-matching promotion last year, has a similar sale this
Canadians often travel to nearby U.S. cities like Buffalo,
NY, or Bellingham, Wash, for Black Friday sales. But there are
usually long delays to cross the border, and shoppers must pay
customs duties on imported goods.
Canadians are also looking for Cyber Monday sales,
according to a recent survey for PayPal Canada. It found 52
percent of Canadians were aware of the online shopping day, up
from 42 percent last year.
There has been a steady increase in Cyber Monday
transactions in Canada, PayPal said in a release.
Best Buy, which is not calling this weekend's sale "Black
Friday", is advertising a "Cyber Monday" sale from late Sunday
evening to early Tuesday morning.