Winnipeggers enjoy Boxing Day amid rising pandemic pressure

WINNIPEG –

Colder weather and pandemic restrictions didn’t stop some Winnipeggers from scoring Boxing Day deals at shops, malls and big-box stores across the city.

In 2020, one of the biggest shopping days of the year looked a little different with shoppers relegated to online orders and curbside pick-up because of COVID-19 restrictions.

This year, Manitoba’s current public health orders meant stores were open for business.

“I actually brought my kid. He wanted to buy a smartwatch,” said a person waiting in line at Best Buy. “We were waiting for Boxing Day because most of the time the watches are on sale.”

Retailers aren’t subject to capacity limits, but public health orders state measures must be in place to ensure social distancing.

“There was a lot of people there, and at the Lego store, it has a person at the door and let customers one-by-one go through the store,” said a man who went to Polo Park to buy a soon-to-retire Lego set.

He went on to say he only visited the one store instead of browsing the entire mall because of rising COVID-19 cases in the province.

In a statement to CTV News, Michelle Wasylyshen, Retail Council of Canada’s national spokesperson, said many people purchased items before the most recent wave of the virus.

“The holiday shopping period is a marathon, not a sprint. And so thankfully, lots of retail sales took place prior to the new environment we are living in with the Omicron variant. Retailers experienced a good September, October, and early November in the lead up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday.”

She added Boxing Day is still a key date for businesses despite the early shoppers.

“It will also be especially important for retailers this year because for many, their inventories didn’t arrive in time for Black Friday or Cyber Monday (due to supply chain challenges) and so sales will have been delayed in order to help clear out product.”

As for shoppers who made the trek out to the stores, some chose to shop local ahead of possible new restrictions.

“I have noticed more people buying local and giving gifts that are local. It’s just more interesting,” said a man shopping at The Forks.

-With files from CTV’s Daniel Halmarson

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