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Happy Boxing Week! This week is Boxing week across Canada, with yesterday (Boxing Day) as the huge kick-off.
I’ll let you know about some differences between how Boxing Day and Boxing Week unfolds in Québec versus the rest of Canada.
For readers from the US and elsewhere, Boxing Day and Boxing Week are kind of the equivalent of Black Friday in the US. Black Friday just started taking place in Canada in the last few years, but it is not nearly the size of event that it is in the US. Canadian Black Friday may see some sales on some items, but the sales in Canada are not as deep as the sales in the US (perhaps Canadian sales are 15% on average and only on select items). However, Canada has always had “Boxing Day”, which is the big sales day with items marked down anywhere from 20% to 80%, averaging around 40% to 60% mark-downs. It is always held on December 26th. Because it is the day after Christmas, people in Canada often receive money for Christmas, in lieu of gifts, with the expectation that they’ll hit the malls and stores the next day to get what they really want, at a huge discount.
What’s relatively new about Boxing Day is that it’s being extended more and more to cover the whole week after Christmas – now known as “Boxing Week”, with “Boxing Week sales”. The big kick-off day continues to be December 26th (when the biggest sales can be found), but sales continue throughout the week.
Yesterday I hit the malls in Edmonton with friends to take a look at how things were shaping up (and to spend some of my Christmas money). Man were the malls packed!! Shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall people (in French we say the malls were noir du monde, which means the same thing). The news reported that at any given moment yesterday, in West Edmonton Mall, there were 150,000 to 170,000 people! (West Edmonton Mall is North America’s largest shopping mall – and it took me 45 minutes just to find a parking spot).
Both levels of West Edmonton Mall jammed pack with people… you can seem them all in the background.
… and more and more people!
I’ve done Boxing Week shopping in Québec before (I used to live in Gatineau, Québec when I worked for the government way back when). But I have never seen these sorts of crowds in Québec shopping malls on Boxing Day as what exists elsewhere in Canada (but cross the river into Ottawa or elsewhere in Ontario or New Brunswick – and look out! The shopping crowds will run you down). I do remember once, many years ago, watching a morning news program from Montréal on December 26th, interviewing line-ups of people outside of Best Buy at 6am just prior to the store opening, and then watching the stampede charge in a few minutes later. But I’ve never quite seen the same thing on the Québec news ever since. The Boxing Day and Boxing Week madness seems much more to be an Anglophone Canada thing (although the sales do exist in Québec too).
Yesterday, the Canadian Press (La Presse canadienne) came out with an article pretty much saying the same thing. The article can be read by clicking here: Le «Boxing Day» est nettement moins populaire au Québec qu’ailleurs au Canada.
In the article, they basically say that only 12% of Québécois plan to take advantage of Boxing Day sales, likely owing to the fact that people in Québec tend to plan their shopping a little bit more in advance (ie: Québécois are less impulsive in their shopping habits).
Something else worth noting in the same vein… in other places in Canada, Boxing Day shopping kicks off at 7am, 8am, 9am, or 10am, depending on the province and provincial holiday regulations. But in Québec, stores didn’t open until 1pm on Boxing Day (hmmm… that could take a bit of bite out of the day).
Regardless, in the week run-up to New Years, I wish everyone a happy Boxing Week, and hopefully you find the deals you’re looking for!