Canada: Is Boxing Day still worth it?


It’s open season for shoppers mired in Boxing Week sales, but some bargain hunters say the best deals of the year have already passed.

The brand director at Canadian shopping website,, says reaction to Boxing Day sales by his community of deal hunters were lukewarm after seeing even deeper discounts offered during Black Friday.


«On Boxing Day when the flyers started to come out, there were some good deals to be had but there were quite a few deals that people were looking at and were going ‘meh’,» said Jeff Novak.

«It’s an okay deal but not a great, great deal.»

Novak says interest in Boxing Day, a Canadian tradition, has been consistent. However, based on traffic to his site and buzz amongst its forums, the American-born occasion is catching up.

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In an informal poll of nearly 500 users in November, he says 70 per cent felt this year Black Friday deals would be better than Boxing Day.

Last year, results were split 50/50.

The reaction is likely a response to retailers directing more of its attention towards Black Friday, he says.

For example, he noted how Apple — notorious for rarely offering deals — lured shoppers with free gift cards for purchases in November. A deal it didn’t replicate on Boxing Day.

Lowered expectations

The everyday day consumer though, may not have caught up with the shift.

In November, Novak’s site and The Harris Poll surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians. It found 41 per cent felt the best savings happened during Boxing Day.

In its annual Canada Holiday Shopping Survey, another market research firm found more than one-third of Canadians who responded believed Boxing Day had the best deals whereas 28 per cent leaned towards Black Friday.

But, those expectations didn’t help Boxing Day sales this year.

«Pretty much everyone we’re speaking to say they’re down below expectations, down below last year,» said retail consultant David Ian Gray, founder of DIG360.

He says poor weather conditions «created havoc» for shoppers across the country.

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«December had been tracking up a little bit over last year … and then Boxing Day just had a real black mark on it.»

At an electronics store in downtown Vancouver’s normally bustling shopping district, only a handful of shoppers were inside.

However, some reports say weather didn’t inhibit shoppers. Final sales figures are expected next month.

Can I return that?

Gray maintains Boxing Day is still the biggest shopping day of the year for most Canadian retailers.

But in certain categories, like electronics, the growth of online sales and occasions like Black Friday could be eating into Boxing Day’s appeal.

«There’s a finite number of dollars that consumers have to work with through the season,» he said. «They don’t have a limitless cheque book.»

If you’re looking for the best bargains, head deal hunter Novak recommends taking a minute to ask about a store’s return policy before buying.

He says many retailers offer extended return periods around Christmas so if you find the item at a better price later, you can return the original item.



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