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Square and Afterpay Report 70M in Record Sales for BFCM

Square and Afterpay report that their sellers hit a record-breaking 70 million transactions through Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to the companies, the peak minute of shopping on Black Friday in Canada was 2:28 p.m. on November 24, 2023. Clearly, many checked out of the office early (mentally, at least) and were browsing for deals on their computers or in stores. The Canadian cities with the largest volume of sales were Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Montreal.

The 70 million transactions recorded this year was up 14% from last year. The companies say that consumers overall continue to display diverse shopping habits as in-person shopping increased 15% while online cart sizes were 3.9 times higher than in-person. This, the report suggest, reinforces the need for sellers to optimize their omni-channel strategy for the remainder of the holiday season. Similarly, 9% more businesses leveraged the power of omni-channel by attracting buyers both in-person and online.

According to Square data, Canadians were out and about doing more than just shopping as well. Restaurants experienced a 24% increase in transactions, while 74% more restaurants sent Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday discounts to promote their business. Square found 185% more beauty and wellness sellers leaned into the shopping weekend by sending Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday discounts. Considering that in 2022, the most popular time for holiday appointments was December 20 through December 23, beauty sellers used the weekend to promote their services early in the holiday season. 

There’s hope for the momentum to continue. Last year, cart sizes in food, retail, and beauty grew 12% globally between the first week of December and the week before Christmas as consumers increased budgets to spoil friends and family. 

Consumers proved they want convenience and options with pre-orders for hot-ticket items leading to transactions being 1.34 times higher than the average Square Online order in Canada. Gift cards also reigned supreme with more than 14,500 sold, most notably in food and beverage, beauty and personal care, and retail industries.

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) transactions through Afterpay increased 29% in Canada, and Square sellers saw their Afterpay transactions grow 10%. The fastest growing Afterpay item categories outside of fashion and beauty were home and department stores as consumers used BNPL for more choice and flexibility at checkout during the holidays. In the U.S., the five largest Afterpay item categories outside of fashion and beauty were hardware, home and garden, arts and entertainment, office supplies, and electronics.

“During the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend, consumers turned out in droves to support their favourite businesses,” says Saumil Mehta, Head of Point of Sale and Omnichannel at Square. “We found that the holidays aren’t just for traditional retailers, as businesses across industries like restaurants and beauty lean into the major weekend. Given consumer sentiment has been positive around the holidays, and we know this weekend is often just the beginning, businesses should continue to expect an influx of shoppers, and be ready to meet them wherever they prefer to shop.”

Square and Afterpay analyzed millions of transactions across all seller industries globally in 2023 from November 23, 11 UTC to November 27, 23:59 UTC. These results, however, pertain to Canada only.

Considering Square caters mainly to small businesses, this is good news for the retail industry in Canada. The holiday season could be looking up. How this fares for the consumer tech retail industry specifically, however, remains to be seen. Happy shopping!