Boxing Day shoppers lured by bargains

Canadians headed out in search of Boxing Day bargains, with some eager shoppers camping overnight outside stores to get the first chance at massive deals.

Retailers in most provinces offered deep discounts and extended shopping hours in an attempt to clear out unsold inventory after Christmas.

Other parts of the country, however, were exempt from the retail frenzy. In Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes, there is no legal shopping in malls and big-box stores. In Nova Scotia, however, drugstores and bookstores are allowed to open the day after Christmas.

At Toronto's downtown Eaton Centre, thrifty customers began camping outside the H&M clothing store at 8 p.m. ET the night before, reported the CBC's Steven D'Souza.

The retailer was handing out gift cards, as much as $25, and one customer told CBC News she showed up at 4 a.m. to ensure she got one. She said the wait was worth it, but "so many people were pushing and everything just to get the card, for money. It was crazy."

Shoppers started lining up outside the Best Buy consumer electronics store in downtown Toronto as early as 1 a.m., D'Souza reported.

"When the store opened up at 6 o'clock this morning, the lineup stretched an entire city block," he said.

Elliott Chun, the spokesman for Future Shop, which is also owned by the same company that runs Best Buy, said the average Boxing Day transaction amounts to $500.

"We see customers come in with their gift cards, their Christmas cash, and they're spending it on themselves," said Chun.

Similar lineups also occured outside the Best Buy store in Winnipeg, where roughly 200 people braved frosty temperatures —including one person who waited nearly 12 hours, wrapped in blankets.

"No one is leisurely browsing the aisles here," reported the CBC's Ryan Hicks. "You're dodging people with carts and huge televisions as they try to get through the checkout and onto the next store."

In Saskatoon, although the temperature felt like -37 degrees Celsius with the wind chill, about 50 people were lined up outside the Lululemon store downtown.

And in Edmonton, despite temperatures of –21C, about 50 people lined up outside a Future Shop store when it opened at 6 a.m., the CBC's Terry Reith reported.

"There has been a steady stream of customers ever since... these are some very committed shoppers," he said.

Matt Cirka, who was shopping at West Edmonton Mall with his sisters on Wednesday, said the cold weather isn't a deterrent.

He said at 7 a.m. when he arrived at the shopping centre it was already crowded with customers.

“You’re not going to keep people away," he told CBC News. "And this is Edmonton, people get used to it. It’s been freezing for months now. What else are you going to do after eating all that food yesterday?”

Many shoppers came prepared with flyers, coupons and a targeted plan to seek out their wares of choice, reported D'Souza.

"This morning I woke up knowing where I wanted to go," one Toronto customer told CBC News. "I knew the TV I wanted... Luckily, they still had it in stock. I got it. I'm feeling pretty good."

In Quebec, under provincial labour laws, the shops aren't allowed to open until 1 p.m. on Dec. 26th. Before the Future Shop in the Montreal Forum opened Wednesday, a long line of people snaked through the mall waiting to get in, said the store's general manager Pierre-André Houle.

"I think there were about 1,200 people that were waiting at 12:30 p.m.," he told CBC News.

Houle said he believed that there were more people lined up this year than last. He attributed the boost to new technologies released by retailers in 2012.

Sixty-two per cent of Canadians say they plan to shop on Boxing Day, according to a recent poll conducted by the Bank of Montreal.

Alberta, Atlantic Canada and Ontario may see a hefty turnout at the tills: 76 per cent, 72 per cent and 69 per cent of Canadians surveyed there, respectively, say they plan to shop today.

Quebecers, however, are less enthusiastic about bargain hunting, with just 36 per cent saying they intend to head to stores Wednesday, BMO said.

The survey also discovered that 66 per cent of men were planning to take advantage of the Dec. 26th bargains versus 58 per cent of women.

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