Boxing Day shopping: Biggest sales event of the year

TORONTO -- For Boxing Day shopping, Durga Baudel had a plan of attack.

Instead of lining up outside a downtown Toronto Best Buy when it opened at 6 a.m.

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, he had a friend scope out the scene, and call him when it wasn't too busy.

He ended up scoring a printer at a steep discount -- 60 per cent off. His friend, the one who tipped him off, got a new TV. And it only took them two hours, start-to-finish.

"I saved $120 (on the printer), so I'm happy," Baudel said.

While some have said that Boxing Day is losing steam in favour of Black Friday, a Best Buy spokesperson said the day after Christmas is still their biggest shopping day of the year.

Elliott Chun said the store's Boxing Day deals are typically a little better than those on Black Friday, although the November shopping event is a popular day to pick up Christmas gifts.

And on both days, the country is moving toward shopping online, favouring websites and mobile apps over bricks-and-mortar stores.

But that didn't stop crowds from forming at the Toronto Eaton Centre, which brimmed with people toting massive shopping bags in the early afternoon.

"I think for a lot of people, it's a tradition to come to Boxing Day. We've seen crowds at every store, waiting for the doors to open at 6 a.m.," Chun said, adding that more than 400 people lined up outside the downtown Toronto store and about 150 people gathered outside the downtown Vancouver location early Saturday morning.

Nearby, signs advertising Boxing Day sales hung in the windows of nearly every store in Vancouver's downtown mall. Security guards dressed in suits stemmed the flow of people streaming in and out high-end stores such as Coach, Michael Kors and Kate Spade.

For those who braved the crushing crowds, there were deals to be found.

"The prices were very cheap. I paid, I think, $26 for jeans," said Niklas Thoma, rummaging through his bags from Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch.

It was the first-ever Boxing Day experience for Thoma, a 16-year-old student from Germany.

"It's pretty cool," he said. "It's very busy, but very cool."

Others found the deals lacking this year.

"I haven't really bought anything on sale yet," said Jasmine Nijjar, who had spent about four hours shopping, picking up some tops and makeup along the way.

"There's still good clothes, though," added her friend Sierra Blackwell.

Deal hunters on the Prairies faced the extra challenge of bitter cold.

It was -25 C in Saskatoon where Mdshamin Ahmed was first in line at 4:30 a.m. to buy a camera that had sold out online.

"Ah, it's crazy. It's too cold," Ahmed told CKOM radio as he paced back and forth trying to keep warm.

In downtown Montreal, where many big retailers opened midday, lineups outside popular stores like Victoria's Secret and H&M stretched around the block.

Onkar Jha said he waited in line about half an hour to get inside an Apple store, where he spent about $1,500 on an iPad, watches and electronics.

He said he saved at least $300, which in his estimation made the trip well worth his time.

"Too bad it's only one day," he said.

Meanwhile, all was quiet on Saturday at shopping malls in Atlantic Canada, as businesses there remained closed for Boxing Day. Sales in that region start on Sunday.

Police files

But in some cases, police were forced to get in on the action.

Thirty kilometres west of Toronto, police in Mississauga, Ont., arrested two people for an alleged assault over a parking spot at busy Square One shopping centre. One person suffered minor injuries.

Meanwhile, a police force in Port Moody, B.C., tweeted some sage advice: "If you're engaging in the gladiatorial event known as Boxing Day shopping, do not leave the spoils in your vehicle. Thieves are out too."

With files by Morgan Lowrie in Montreal and Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver



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