Black Friday is bedlam.
If you’ve never been, by all means take part – but prepare yourself for a swirling mass of bodies clambering over one another to get to the best deals. According to a BMO poll, 47 per cent of respondents planned to cross the border for Black Friday in 2013. That’s up from 41 per cent in 2012 – and each shopper expects to spend an average of $292.
This shopping holiday isn’t for the faint of heart; “door crasher” sale isn’t an abstract term, as there may be some actual door crashing involved. There will be the sharp smell of consumer sweat and lines stretching around all sorts of corners. There will be stress, and lots of it – heightened tensions, passive aggression and surreptitious sale scouting.
So now, consider yourself warned. Still hell-bent on scoring those ridiculously sweet savings south of the border? Here’s some sage advice for getting to the States on a dime.
Black Friday 2014 Mission: Head South
While a growing number of Canadian businesses and retailers are participating in the shopping holiday this year, the authentic Black Friday experience still lies south of the border.
But even if you miss out on the crazy “door crasher” items, you could still save 20 – 30 per cent, according to Keith Pitts, blogger and author of The Canadian Cross-Border Shopping Guide. “It makes sense for Canadians to go to the U.S. to shop, period,” he told the Toronto Star.
With that being said, going stateside is costly. Travelling from Toronto to Buffalo, N.Y. – including tolls, gas, hotels and meals – can cost Canadians roughly $400 in travel costs before even hitting the stores. And that’s if you have a car. However, those without wheels can take part in the shopping madness too. Here are a few other options for heading stateside.
Take A Tour
Several clever tour bus operators have been quick to set up little shopping jaunts for the Black Friday inclined.
Travactours.com operates a Midnight Madness shopping trip from Ottawa to Woodsbury Commons in New York. The trip costs $449 per person or $319 for doubles and includes the cross-border round trip, two nights accommodation and transportation to and from several malls.
Hold the Hotel
For the tireless sales searcher with an affinity towards all-nighters, BlackFridayTrips.com offers a simple shuttle for $40 on Thursday (stores open at midnight for Black Friday) from a few different locations in Toronto that will drop shoppers off at three locations in New York State – Fashion Outlets Niagara, Walden Galleria and Burlington Coat Factory.
Shoppers can peruse the deals throughout the night and the bus returns at 3pm.
While buses can be uncomfortable, if you’re looking to capitalize on the deals without breaking the bank, these tours are certainly one of the cheapest options.
Use A Ride Share
Digitally hitching a ride is also a cheap solution – if you don’t mind meeting a few strangers. You can check on Kijiji or Craigslist for people looking to rideshare for a trip south of the border. Splitting a tank of gas for the round trip between two people would be about $30 to $40 a head, but if you have a friend it’ll be even cheaper.
Then there’s renting a car which can cost anywhere from $18-$40 a day plus $40 gas. This option is economical for three to four people.
Time Is Of The Essence
There’s a myriad of ways to plunge yourself head first into the consumer madness, if you must. But the number one thing to keep in mind with Black Friday is being early – book early and get there early.
Enjoy the madness.