In this epoch of consumerism where human desires grow like mushrooms after the summer rains and savings are agreeable to buyers’ wallets – the sales, not surprisingly, remain attractive.

In Canada and the U.S., homes are overwhelmed with stuff, but people keep buying. Commercials agitate the ego, insisting that “you deserve it”. The sales are a game, a thrilling adult game. To buy something cheaper is like winning a market battle with the buyer. Who is more cunning in this financial play? The buyer or the seller?

There are two famous annual events in North America: Canada’s Boxing Day and the U.S.’s Black Friday. Unlike its neighbour in the south, Canada is more reserved and polite in its approach to the bargain day. In the U.S., things are a little more competitive and you’ll see the difference if you dare to venture into the shopping fray.

Canada: Boxing Day

The Boxing Day originated in Britain as a day of Christmas boxes, or presents, that masters gave to their servants together with their day-off, so that they could go to their families and give them Christmas gifts. Nowadays, Canada’s Boxing Day is an extra holiday, which Canadians can spend in stores to buy more stuff. How to attract them after their crazy pre-Christmas shopping when all the money has already been spent on Christmas gifts for families and friends? The answer is simple: deals—though a majority of Canadian bargain hunters admit that best deals happen on Black Friday, even though it is an American holiday.

America: Black Friday

“Black Friday” owes its name to the cops of downtown Philadelphia who dealt with the street chaos following Thanksgiving. The chaos is still on and it has spread across North America. The “event”, which brought in $5 billion dollars in 24 hours last year, isn’t complete without reports of injuries and even deaths. The promise of a bargain brings out the worst in human beings: greed, envy, jealousy, violence, assault, and insult. It doesn’t matter how prevalent the aggressive element of Black Friday is in the U.S., the tradition is expanding globally.

Many people will be surprised to know that Boxing Day in the USA is not a bargain day as in Commonwealth countries, but an additional holiday that Americans spend with families and friends. Nearly 88 percent of the U.S. population celebrates this day. While government offices and banks are open and staffed with grumpy personnel who’d prefer to stay home with their families, pizza delivery businesses are thrilled due to a high volume and huge profits on this day.

Regardless of the pros and cons of the high-stakes sales scene both in Canada and the U.S., a smart consumer can still find record bargains and big savings on these shopping holidays. However, these countries’ cultural differences beget different tips to survive the sales. So if you are visiting North America on one of these popular sales days, it’s good to know that:

On Canada’s Boxing Day:

  1. Shop alone or with no more than one companion to avoid being unnecessarily distracted by a crowd.
  2. Dress comfortably and practically: no heels, no flip-flops, and wear breathable clothes to maintain your cool.
  3. Parking may be overcrowded, so use public transportation. At the end of the day, consider treating yourself to a cab to take you home to celebrate your lucky finds.
  4. Do preliminary research to have a better idea of real deals and have a shopping list to avoid aimless vagabonding among crowds.
  5. Bring snacks and water to avoid crowded food courts.
  6. It may sound paradoxical, but avoid malls and try online shopping starting at 12:01 a.m. You may get what you want while staying in the coziness of your home.
  7. Breathe deeply, remain polite, and respect others.

On USA’s Black Friday:

  1. Shop with your shopping team to take advantage of as many deals as possible.
  2. Research, plan your budget, and study comparison apps in advance.
  3. Designate one of your companions as the driver and focus on remote and less crowded malls.
  4. Grab your coupons and prepare for the attack.
  5. Fuel your body and brain in food courts or with snacks.
  6. Adopt a positive mindset, be prepared for sudden changes, and adapt on the fly.
  7. Protect yourself.

The differences between these two shopping holidays are obvious and reflect the character of both nations. But the key question remains. “Is it worth going for these sales?” Experts say not really, as unlike the past, nowadays the sales are beginning weeks before and lasting long after the sale’s calendar day.

Yet, the best deals are still the zest of Canadian Boxing Day and American Black Friday, even though the selection is limited and you’ll have to endure the real ordeal of a sleepless night and (possibly) dangerous fights with the crowd. Today, convenience and comfort of buying prevail among buyers’ values. From the era of retailer power, the market has moved to the era of consumer power, and what will be tomorrow is only known to Tomorrow.