Boxing Day in Red Deer features smaller crowds, steady sales

Shoppers still willing to wake up early, line up for electronics deals

Thrifty Central Albertans set out in the cold and dark early Monday in search of great Boxing Day deals.

But while deep discounts of up to 70 per cent were offered by many Red Deer retailers, they still didn’t attract the huge hordes of customers associated with past Dec. 26 events.

Although crowds were smaller, sales were steady — especially at electronics outlets, where people were lining up in the dark to save on computers, TVs, and other goods.

Between 20 and 30 customers had queued outside Best Buy when doors opened at 6 a.m., said self-described “geek squad” manager Mason Ruppel.

“They’ve been super excited. Everybody wants a deal…”

While Black Friday sales, online shopping, pre-Christmas store deals, and the tough Alberta economy, all took bites out of 2016 Boxing Day sales, Brian Rodgers was still among those who found it paid off to shop in person. He was thrilled to land a pile of merchandise — including speakers, stands, and DVDs — for 20 to 50 per cent off.

Brendan Buss, a student from Rocky Mountain House, felt it was worth getting up at 6:30 a.m. and driving to Red Deer in -20 C temperatures to land a discounted 40-inch television for his bedroom. “We could just walk in, it was great!”

Red Deer-area resident Caitlyn Richardson found a case for a computer she’d just bought at Staples. “We were the first ones there at 8 a.m.,” she said, with little competition from other shoppers.

Chris Knight was among a dozen customers waiting to pay at Sport Chek, after getting his hands on a new snowboard, boots and bindings, for 20 to 30 per cent off — and then some. The store’s associate manager Emily Wroe said early-bird customers were offered sale prices, less triple the GST, before 10 a.m.

She described business as “pretty steady,” saying a lot of people don’t show up on Boxing Day, thinking they can similar deals all week long.

Kristen Scott and her twin sister Angela Miller, of Innisfail, found fabulous savings at Old Navy and Superstore. “It was incredible,” said Scott, to get a $250 TV on sale for $120. While the women observed this Boxing Day wasn’t as busy as in years past, Miller believes, “people are still shopping…”

Customers were checking out various 20- to 60-per cent-off sales at Bower Place mall. While it was far from crowded in the morning, some merchants felt business would pick up as the day went on. “First thing people hit the box stores. We’ll probably be slammed in the afternoon,” said the manager of HMV, who declined be named.

Ariel Miller, a sales clerk at the Wicked booth, believes all retailers were affected by the difficult economy. She’s hoping for a more prosperous 2017.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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