This Season of Endless Discounts – Canadian Retail Market Indicators

This eholiday season has been overwhelming. I feel that my phone has been kicked into overdrive, it is constantly vibrating to let me know that Canadian retailers are offering ridiculously large discounts.

Of these retailers, the most relevant to me are RW & Co and Banana Republic.   Since American Thanksgiving I’ve received countless emails from these two retailers. Both of them have been offering deep discounts such as 50% off clearance items, 40% off regular-priced items and even 50% off the entire purchase (regular items included). These deep discounts sound like the dream but the endless emails are driving me slightly insane and it is worrying that retailers are offering such deep discounts before Christmas.

In the process of writing this post I found myself on Bloor Street doing my Christmas shopping. Club Monaco offered 30% off sale items and a tiered discount promotion, the Gap was hosting a 60% off selected items winter sale, and Banana Republic was doling out a 50% off entire purchase promotion. I nabbed a buttery soft merino wool sweater for my dad for a mere $39.54, tax included, at Banana Republic. At any other time of the year I would have had to drop $70 +tax, a marginal difference of 3 bottles of Jackson Triggs Shiraz, and wouldn’t have  the pleasure of having a strapping good-looking lad in a caramel coat open the door for me (no, he does not get paid extra for standing in the cold – I asked).

When the emails first started rolling out on Black Friday the deals were intriguing but after weeks where the same deal or similar deal is re-offered at the end of the promotion period I’ve stopped online browsing/shopping and receiving email excitement.  Yes, December is a month to offload inventory before the new fiscal year arrives but it is worrying that retailers are resorting to such heavy discounting to drive sales before Christmas. The continuous rolling price promotions are indicating poor retail sales although Bloomberg reports that consumer sentiment is at a current 7-year high in a Michigan poll. Consumer sentiment might be high but the low margins for retailers this Christmas season is creating an uneasy feeling.

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