Black Friday isn't going away and neither is this growing B.C. retailer | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Black Friday isn't going away and neither is this growing B.C. retailer

FILE PHOTO- Shoppers in Kamloops and the Okanagan are getting used to pre-Christmas deals during Black Friday week, an increasingly important shopping period for local retail merchants.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
November 28, 2019 - 6:00 PM

Black Friday sales have only recently become a thing when it comes to Christmas shopping in Canada, but a local retailer says the day, which is now a week, is gaining momentum and looks like it’s here to stay.

Andre Blanleil of Andre’s Electronics Experts says his company has been engaged in Black Friday sales for about six years now.

The chain of electronics stores has its origins in Kelowna, where Blanleil’s father began with a television repair shop in 1976.

Andre went into retail in 1980 and since then the chain has grown to 36 locations in B.C. the Yukon and Northwest Territories, with stores in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton.

Blanleil says Black Friday began as a U.S. pre-Christmas sale day following the American Thanksgiving.

“Canadian wholesalers realized Canadian consumers were taking advantage of before Christmas sales down there. Prior to that, Boxing Day and week used to be the biggest sales days of the year,” Blanleil says.

As realization grew, more and more Canadians were taking advantage of those south-of-the-border sales, Canadian suppliers decided they needed to be in the game to keep those sales in Canada.

“Black Friday has grown to be the biggest week of the year,” Blanleil says, in a week running from Wednesday through to Tuesday the following week. “Boxing Day is still big, making for two buying periods with a slower period in between to Christmas.”

Blanleil says the business has changed drastically, in that suppliers largely drive the Black Friday sales.

“Suppliers come to us and give us a special rebate based on customers buying that week. Say we buy a TV for  $1,000, that retails for $1,199. For this particular sales period, what the supplier may do is say, 'for this week we’re going to give you a $200 sales rebate. So what happens is my cost artificially becomes $800 and we may sell the TV for $899 this week. So literally by the end of this week, or when the period is over, I will be in the negative for what I actually paid for the product, and the supplier will have to give me money back to make me whole for these deals,” Blanleil explains. "It’s a substantial discount. I’m actually selling to the customer below my cost, then I have to go back to the supplier to get my money back."

Blanleil says the practice drives the market because these prices are way below what he pays, and two weeks later when someone comes in looking for that deal, he can’t make it because he will have paid more for it.

Blanleil says Black Friday shopping has caught on all over British Columbia and Canada, calling it “probably the biggest retail week in the country.”

His stores will be fully staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from yesterday, Nov. 27, through Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Black Friday has also come to be synonymous with online sales, but while other brick-and-mortar retailers have declined, his chain has only grown.

Blanleil says Andre's has been able to compete with internet and online sales largely through its customer service.

“They can’t tell you online what is the right TV for you. Our customers receive full service from trained, knowledgeable staff who know the what the differences are in our products. They can actually give you some advice,” he says, adding the stores constantly check prices against big box stores and online sales to ensure they are as good or better than anyone else.

Blanleil says Andre's also offers online sales as well, but coming into the store allows his staff to "make sure the customer experience is as good as it can be."


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