Every year, millions of Canadians wake bright and early on December 26th and brave the potentially bone-chilling weather to reach their local shopping mall or big box store. Why? Because it’s Boxing Day — a British tradition co-opted by its former colony and now a statutory holiday that sees retailers offering rock-bottom prices and consumers willing to spend big.
For retailers, it’s worth getting ready before the big day arrives: Here’s a retail guide to generating revenue and meeting Canadian expectations on Boxing Day.
While there’s no hard data on the origins of Boxing Day, one thing is certain, it’s not a reference to the rough-and-tumble sport. Sure, Canadians might get into the occasional squabble over limited quantities and low prices, but they’re generally too considerate — and still stuffed from recent Christmas feasts — to consider any type of festive fisticuffs.
Common thinking puts the origins of Boxing Day at least several centuries distant in Britain. Some suggest it stems from the practice of putting money-filled boxes on ships. If the voyage was successful, the boxes were given to local clergy members for distribution among the poor. Other accounts say the selfsame boxes appeared outside churches each Christmas to collect public donations. The most widely accepted take on the tradition is that the day after Christmas, wealthier families gave their servants and tradesmen “Christmas Boxes” full of money and gifts to honor another year’s worth of service.
In its current incarnation, Canadian retailers (both online and in-store) offer steep discounts and special deals to draw in customers. The majority of stores, restaurants and malls are open, while government service and most non-retail businesses are closed.
Thinking Outside the Box
How do you prepare for the onslaught of polite-but-determined Canadians looking for great deals? Best Boxing Day bets include:
- Bring in extra help — Make sure your store can handle Boxing Day sales volume by bringing in extra help. Go big here; the more people you can serve, the faster, the more revenue you can generate.
- Advertise in advance — Want to generate consumer interest? Make sure you’re advertising in-store and online well ahead of the holiday. Many stores start running Boxing Day ads near the beginning of December.
- Get your website ready — Online retail revenue reached $40 billion USD this year in Canada, so make sure your website is ready for increased Boxing Day traffic. Talk to your telecoms provider about bandwidth and make sure you have server room to spare. If you can’t keep up with demand, implement a reliable queue system so consumers aren’t left in the cold.
- Find a trusted payment partner — Despite increased online shopping, point-of-sale (POS) purchases remain the biggest revenue driver for retail stores. You need a trusted payment partner that offers reliable technology, rigorous PCI compliance and low interchange rates.
- Boost security — More shoppers and more staff mean more potential for fraud. Implement straightforward policies — such as receipt-only returns that start after January 1st — along with network controls that prevent temporary staff from gaining access to critical data.
End of an Era?
Worth noting: America’s favorite shopping day — Black Friday — overtook Boxing Day last year for sales volume. Maybe it’s a one-off, maybe it’s the end of an era; either way, retailers need to start gearing up for the season sooner than they think.
Wrap It Up
Boxing Day remains a powerful, post-Christmas retail force in Canada. Make sure you’re ready with extra staff, great advertising, reliable websites, improved security and trusted payment solutions.
Need help with Canadian payment processing? Go BluePay for Boxing Day.