Kinder, gentler Black Friday comes to Canada

Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:31pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - 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 Center 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 (DIS.N: Quote) 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 store.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) 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 (BBY.N: Quote) after her night shift to snag a laptop, but the store was closed.   Continued...