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November 8, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #41



  • Retailers get ready for Black Friday with month-long sales events
  • Product availability now an important part of retailers’ holiday messaging
  • BSIA of B.C. launches study to explore key issues facing the industry
  • Ikea Canada will counter Black Friday sales with a push to go green

PLUS: TIMBER MART appoints member services director for Quebec, Grainger reports Q3 sales, Lowe’s Canada woos pros during Black Friday, Ron Sherk remembered, LBMAO app replaces printed directory, WRLA promotes Shop Local campaign, West Fraser results, higher prices for logs, building permits rise, and more!


Retailers get ready for Black Friday with month-long sales events

Running up to the holiday season—and in anticipation of the online drawing power of Black Friday—Lowe’s Canada is promoting its stores as the destinations for everything consumers need to fill their homes for the season.

Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, a holiday which, unlike in Canada, always falls on the same day of the year—a Thursday. Like Boxing Day here, it is a huge day for retail sales. Thanks to the internet, which recognizes no borders, those Black Friday sales quickly migrated north of the border. Now, Canadian retailers must offer sales of their own, or get left out.

While Black Friday is just one day—this year it lands on Nov. 26—the sales around it have grown beyond that one day, to a week of specials and now a full month of promotions and deals leading up to the holiday season. For most of these retailers, Black Friday deals were available starting Nov. 4. In the U.S., many retailers, including Amazon, began offering Black Friday specials as early as mid-October. They continue until the end of November.

So the Lowe’s, RONA, and Réno-Dépôt stores in Canada are in good company. Canadian Tire is offering 70 percent off a wide range of products, and Best Buy promises to offer more products and services than in the past through their website and in their stores. The power of Black Friday will dominate promotions for the rest of this month.


Product availability now an important part of retailers’ holiday messaging

Early in October, well ahead of the holiday season, Robin Lee, CEO of Lee Valley Tools sent an email message to customers that made him sound more like the Grinch than a Christmas elf. Worried about product and raw materials shortages, Lee warned the company was expecting major delays in order fulfillment ahead of the holiday rush.

“The message for consumers is buy early, because there is no chance to reorder or to replenish” before Christmas, he said. He also announced Lee Valley’s Christmas catalogue was being sent out “uncomfortably early.”

Stories of supply chain woes have filled the news at an unrelenting rate since then. Not only are retailers focusing on the fun and convenience of shopping, but they’re taking steps to reassure customers that they’ll have the products in stock.

Canadian Tire issued a holiday-themed flyer at the beginning of November that warns customers, not once, but in two places, that shortages could occur. “We are currently experiencing exceptional demand for many popular items,” the blurb reads. It then invites customers to keep track of availability by going online or downloading an app.
In a release from Lowe’s Canada last week, Catherine Laporte, vice-president of marketing, said, “We secured large inventories of popular items early so our customers can have access to great products now at a great value to better enjoy their holidays.”

Those assurances extend to the online shopping experience. The company says it has developed several new functionalities to offer an improved omnichannel experience. That includes beefing up its call centres and digital platforms and the introduction of same-day delivery in some markets (see our Oct. 4, 2021, edition for more on this). It’s all to make shopping easier online and in store, but it’s also to confirm that Lowe’s Canada has the products on hand and in time for the holidays.


BSIA of B.C. launches study to explore key issues facing the industry

The Building Supply Industry Association is rolling out a Sector Engagement and Labour Market Study, seeking input from key stakeholders on what key issues are of most concern to the industry today.

The BSIA represents the retail home improvement industry in British Columbia. The association is working with research firm Malatest, which will conduct virtual interviews and focus groups.

The study aims to uncover what dealers and suppliers believe are key issues, including labour needs, and other factors that influence hiring, training, and retention in the sector. “We’re doing it,” says BSIA president Thomas Foreman, “because the industry needs to have a better sense of what the issues are that are challenging us.”

He says HR-related challenges top the list for many in the industry, which faces a shortage of workers and a struggle to retain people. The final study will result in an in-depth understanding of key labour market trends and needs in the sector, including training needs, average compensation, and anticipatedhiring needs over the next five to 10 years. Findings will be shared with participants after the study is completed.

“The study is going to provide us with scientific information, not hearsay or speculation, on what the challenges are,” Foreman adds. “These issues are not exclusive to British Columbia, or just to retailers, but the sector as a whole.”

He recently sat down with the other members of the umbrella group that gathers regional LBM associations, the Building Material Council of Canada (BMCC). Those associations will undertake similar studies in their sectors. “We will share our findings to create a national view, so we can come up with a national solution,” he says.

“To me, this is the most exciting project we have been able to start because the initiatives are critical.”

(Want to participate? Contact BSIA president Thomas Foreman directly.)


Ikea Canada will counter Black Friday sales with a push to go green

During one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, Ikea Canada is shifting attention to show how sustainable living can be easy and affordable. While other retailers promote their Black Friday specials, Ikea Canada will use this month to raise awareness of green initiatives at its stores.

Through its Green Friday campaign, the retailer will invite Canadians to focus instead on re-using and re-purposing existing products. It is encouraging customers to bring in gently-used Ikea products, through its Sell-Back program, in exchange for an in-store credit. From Nov. 1 to 14, the company is offering a bonus of 1.5 times the sell-back value of used items.

In addition, customers can take advantage of special promotions within the retailer's "as-is" section, which has been renamed the Circular Hub to further promote the concept of re-use. There, shoppers can buy used and discontinued products that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

The Green Friday campaign is one of a range of initiatives by Ikea to become an eco-responsible and climate-positive business by 2030. This includes using only renewable, recycled, or recyclable materials, eliminating waste, and introducing services that help customers to extend the life of their products.

TIMBER MART has appointed Jean-François Caron as regional director of member services for Quebec. In his new role, he will report directly to TIMBER MART’s VP of member services, Jon Irwin, and work remotely. Caron will be responsible for managing relationships with TIMBER MART members in Quebec, acting as a liaison to the members there. Caron began his career in the building materials industry in 2012 at Chalifour Canada in merchandising. In 2015, he joined TIMBER MART as a merchandising co-ordinator.


... that we have the marketing backup you need to plan for 2022? If you want to know how big your retail customers are, what their sales are in each province, and who the top 20 retail home improvement players are, check out the Hardlines Retail Report and the Hardlines Market Share Report. This exclusive info is just not available anywhere else but at Hardlines. Let us help you get ready for the year ahead!


W. W. Grainger reported Q3 sales of $3.4 billion, up 11.7 percent. Operating earnings of $438 million marked an increase of 17.4 percent. Earnings of $5.65 per share were up 25 percent compared to the third quarter of 2020. The company said strong supply chain and operational performance drove results above its expectations.

IN MEMORIAM: Ron Sherk, Sherk Lumber TIMBER MART

Ron Sherk passed away on Oct. 13. Born in 1931, he was the owner of Sherk Lumber TIMBER MART in Port Colborne, Ont., which claims to be one of the oldest building centres in the country. Started in 1813 by his grandfather, who had already established a sawmill in town, the company has endured for more than 210 years. Sherk worked there himself for more than 70 years. The Sherk family will receive visitors at the Davidson Funeral Home in Port Colborne on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


The Lumber and Building Materials Association of Ontario (LBMAO) has introduced an app to replace the association’s annual printed directory. The new version provides listings of its retailer members alphabetically and by region. It also provides information on member suppliers and their products. Unlike the printed directory, the app will be updated regularly to reflect changes in membership. It can only be accessed by downloading it from the Android Store or the App Store onto your phone or tablet.

The Western Retail Lumber Association has relaunched its Shop Local campaign.
The campaign consists of eight social media posts and two posters, to which independent businesses can add their logo. Click here for more information.

West Fraser Timber garnered sales of $2.36 billion and earnings of $460 million in Q3 of 2021. Its lumber business generated earnings of $52 million. The company’s quarterly results were impacted by wildfires in its home province of British Columbia.

Higher prices for logs, coupled with a smaller-than-expected drop in demand as U.S. Thanksgiving approaches, are keeping prices for lumber up. And some analysts expect retail prices to stay high well into 2022. Reduced output from mills in western Canada, along with labour troubles at mills in the southern U.S., has aggravated the situation.

Canadian small and mid-sized businesses expect to have to raise prices over the next year as supply chains continue to be squeezed. In a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, respondents on average anticipated a 3.9 percent hike in prices. Twenty-seven percent of businesses said they expected to implement increases of at least six percent. Another 19 percent estimated that increases would amount to five percent or more.


The total value of building permits rose 4.3 percent to $10.1 billion in September, led by Ontario (+6.3 percent). Construction intentions in the residential sector were up 8.2 percent, while the non-residential sector decreased 3.2 percent, despite climbing 55 percent in Alberta. (StatCan)


Ontario Premier Doug Ford will raise the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour effective Jan. 1, 2022. The hourly minimum wage is currently $14.35. While the move is being cheered by some, many employers, especially small businesses and retailers say they were surprised by the move and felt they were not adequately consulted.


"Now we know the ideal home is a greener, spacious, and more comfortable place to live, where we can be close to the people we care about and do the activities that make us feel good.”
—Kathy Davey, head of home furnishing and retail design, IKEA Canada, referred to a study by IKEA that revealed 60 percent of Canadians made a change to their home in the past year, and that one-third increased the importance of green space or private gardens. The survey also found that nearly four out of 10 Canadians experienced a negative impact on their mental health throughout the past year.





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