Cash registers were flashing and customers were buzzing around both suburban shopping malls and downtown stores throughout the capital region Wednesday, as vendors offered everything from massive one-day savings to no extra savings at all.
Stores at Uptown mall in Saanich, which boasts a Walmart and electronics giants Future Shop and Best Buy were all busy Wednesday.
However, gone is the crush of Boxing Day shoppers who flooded stores in the years before online shopping took a bite out of personal shopping, the economy forced vendors to be more conservative with their inventory and Boxing Day sales morphed into Boxing Week deals.
Annie Ryan, 19, of Sooke, was at the mall at 7 a.m. to snag the best clothing deals at Plenty and the newly opened Forever 21, but found the crowds smaller than expected.
Still, Forever 21 managed to attract long lineups, even though it wasn’t even offering Boxing Day prices.
Some downtown stores on Johnson Street were uncharacteristically quiet on Boxing Day morning. Nicole and James Salthouse, owners of Mango’s Boutique and Accessories on Johnson Street, opened at 8:30 a.m. but didn’t see crowds until the afternoon.
“It’s actually fantastic now,” said James Salthouse at 3:30 p.m.
One of the store’s hottest features was a one-day-only 50 per cent off sale on brand-name men’s and women’s jeans that usually cost as much as $200 or $300.
“People wait for expensive jeans to go on sale,” Salthouse said. “I literally just opened a box of spring 2013 jeans. It breaks my heart a little [to put them on sale], but that’s part of this gig.”
By afternoon, a parking spot in downtown Victoria — free on the statutory holiday — was hard to come by.
Boxing Day shoppers were lined up at Best Buy at Uptown at 5:30 a.m. to nab laptop computers and televisions as soon as the store opened at 6 a.m.
Many were there for the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air for $999 — an advertised savings of $200 — as well as deals on big-screen televisions.
Jack and Sue Weinger of Barrie, Ont., were buying a Sony 46-inch, 3-D television at about $300 off, as well as an iPod and a 3-D DVD player in preparation for their move to Victoria in April.
Eric Pettit was headed home with son Jason and son-in-law Chris Manseau with a new 47-inch LG television. The family members hoped to have it set up and ready for an afternoon music video game of Rock Band.
“I wasn’t worried about the crowds,” Pettit said, securing the television into the back of his truck.
One of the most visible signs of a Boxing Day frenzy was at the parking lot at Mayfair Shopping Centre, between Douglas Street and Blanshard Avenue, where shoppers vied for limited spaces. The Bay was advertising a one-day-only 70 per cent-off sale.
A new survey commissioned by the Bank of Montreal suggests Canadians continue to embrace the Boxing Day tradition this year.
The Pollara survey of 1,000 Canadians found that roughly six in 10 Canadians planned to shop on one of the busiest days of the year for retailers.
The bank said Alberta would see the most transactions, with 76 per cent of respondents saying they planned to take advantage of Boxing Day bargains. Atlantic Canada was next at 72 per cent, followed by Ontario at 69 per cent.
Quebec was expected to see the lightest Boxing Day shopping, with just 36 per cent of respondents saying they planned to take part in the annual shopping extravaganza.
The survey also found that men were more likely than women to take advantage of Boxing Day sales at a rate of 66 per cent versus 58 per cent.
One in five, or 22 per cent, said they planned to shop for themselves, while 34 per cent said they would buy items for both themselves and others.
The survey was conducted between Oct. 11 and 16 and the results are considered accurate plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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