Holiday 2019: Recapping Retail Performance in Canada

TORONTO ON, February 5, 2020 – Canadian holiday sales for key general merchandise categories grew at a rate of +1.6 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018, according to The NPD Group. When it comes to holiday sales, we continue to see concentration into key selling periods with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing week accounting for 55 per cent of total sales across the last 7 weeks of the year. This year, Black Friday Week was the largest period accounting for 22 per cent of sales and growing at +7 per cent. Dollar sales during black Friday week were nearly 30 per cent higher than during Boxing Week.

Top performers this Holiday include Small Appliances and Prestige Beauty products, which experienced the largest growth during Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks, posting collective growth of +10 per cent during Black Friday and +21 per cent during Cyber Monday.

“The key promotional periods like black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day grew significantly faster than total holiday which indicates that the weeks in between declined significantly faster than in previous years,” said Armin Begic, Executive Director, Retail Business Group at The NPD Group. “This is the reason retailers and brands are stretching those key promotional days into weeks to try and smooth out sales. The concern is consumers will get promotion fatigue and start to tune out messaging.”


In the Technology space, holiday sales once again continued to shift away from Boxing Week and into Black Friday Week. 30 per cent more electronics were sold during Black Friday Week compared to Boxing Week. Furthermore, Black Friday Week 2019 was up +7 per cent vs. 2018 while Boxing Week sales were down -1 per cent. The key growth drivers in this space were Headphones, TVs, PCs and Tablets. In dollars, TVs were up +10 per cent, Headphones +42 per cent (thanks in large part to Apple Air Pods), Tablets +2 per cent, and PCs up +8 per cent.


Prestige Beauty was the fastest growing industry during Cyber Monday Week with growth of +31 per cent driven by Skincare and Fragrance. Interestingly, although Makeup declined across total holiday, it grew +11.4 per cent during Cyber Monday. Skincare continued its dominance as the number one category in Canada and was a key gifting category over the holidays. According to NPD data, of the consumers that planned to purchase beauty as a gift for someone else this holiday season, Skincare was the top category of choice ahead of Fragrance.


The videogame industry slowed in 2019 coming off of an explosive year in 2018, which had been the highest in ten years. Consumers are eagerly anticipating new hardware systems in fall 2020 with the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett. The only hardware platform that saw growth this holiday season was Nintendo Switch, which accounted for half of all hardware dollars for the year. In the game category, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019 was the best-selling game for the year.

In the Toy Industry, L.O.L. Surprise! from MGAE continued its impressive growth as it once again was the best-selling property for the second year in a row. The Action Figures and Accessories super category showed the highest growth, up +13 per cent, driven by Beyblade and Toy Story product lines. The toy industry slowed in the last few weeks versus the year prior, even with all the big Entertainment properties such as Star Wars and Disney Frozen that had broad toy assortments. It seems that having six fewer selling days between Black Friday and Christmas didn’t allow sales to match prior year.


As mentioned, one of the top performers this holiday season was the Small Appliances industry, which experienced the strongest growth over the last 7 weeks of 2019 at +7.7 per cent. The categories that helped drive this growth include Vacuums, which were up +12 per cent during Black Friday, Personal Care Appliances which grew by +11 per cent during Cyber Monday, and Kitchen Appliances, which grew by a whopping +16 per cent during Boxing Week.


When it comes to Footwear and Apparel, seasonal categories led in terms of dollar volume with Winter Boots leading Footwear and Outerwear leading Apparel. The top performing categories in Footwear in Q4 include Casual Ankle Boots (+53 per cent), Training Shoes (+10 per cent), and Basketball Shoes (+28 per cent). In Apparel, the top performing categories include Sweatshirts (+16 per cent), Active Pants (+17 per cent), and Athletic Jackets (+15 per cent). Pajama Sets were the most gifted Apparel Category in 2019 while Winter Boots were the top gifted category in Footwear.


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Erick Bauer

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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