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‘You literally cannot move:’ Shoppers return to GTA malls in Boxing Day frenzy


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‘You literally cannot move:’ Shoppers return to GTA malls in Boxing Day frenzy

Last-minute shoppers braved the malls Saturday to score the perfect gift but those looking to snag a Boxing Day deal were out in droves, causing at least one car accident in Vaughan with traffic stretching kilometres around Vaughan Mills.

“I’ve never seen people go so feral for jeans,” said Ariana, a Boxing Day shopper at Vaughan Mills. “You literally cannot move,” she added, referencing heavy foot traffic in the mall.

The holiday is celebrated the day after Christmas and originated from the appointment of St. Stephen by the apostles as one of seven deacons to distribute money, food or other material goods to underserved members of the Church.

Despite its start as a holiday to offer goods to those who could use a little support, it’s more commonly known now as a shopping frenzy for folks looking to score deals on items and pick up the things they didn’t get for Christmas.

At Vaughan Mills outlet mall traffic stretched kilometres around the area, with at least one car accident reported by York Regional Police Monday afternoon.

The Rutherford Road exit on Hwy. 400 — the exit closest to the mall — was also jammed with cars, with one driver telling the Star it took her 40 minutes to drive from Steeles Avenue West to Rutherford Road — a trip that would normally take around 15 minutes.

The parking lot was full, with one shopper saying in a video posted to TikTok she left frustrated after unsuccessfully circling the area for 40 minutes looking for a parking spot.

Bus routes in the area also faced delays of up to 25 minutes, as per reports from York Region Transit. Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto was similarly packed with shoppers.

In Windsor, Boxing Day shopper Jon Liedtke reported Devonshire Mall was “not overly busy,” with regular traffic in the surrounding area — maybe even a bit less than usual. “It seems like the cold has kept the masses at home.”

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Southeast of Toronto, videos posted to social media show dozens of people lined up to enter the Nike store at Niagara Outlet Collection Mall — even after a crippling blizzard caused whiteouts and widespread road closures in the area in recent days.

Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, said Boxing Day shopping was largely dependent on weather this year, with locales with more snow and trickier driving conditions likely to see less traffic than shopping centres in the GTA.

But even if folks didn’t leave their homes, Boxing Days sales are still readily available online, with both in-person and online deals set to last throughout the week.

“Online shopping is still really important for Boxing Day, especially for seasonal items and other big-ticket items such as furniture and appliances,” she said.

Wasylyshen said November is typically the busiest shopping month, but retailers were mostly underwhelmed by sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, in part because consumers were waiting for better deals.

Despite inflation and talks of a recession, the council’s shopping survey found people still intended to celebrate and shop for the holiday season, albeit a little differently for the first in recent years without pandemic-related public health restrictions in place.

While too early to know how retailers performed this Boxing Day, Wasylyshen thinks Monday’s sales will ultimately prove to be strong.

“We think there’s reason for cautious optimism that the year will end on a more upbeat note than what we saw for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Alessia Passafiume is a GTA-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach Alessia via email: apassafiume@torstar.ca

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