January 18, 2022

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Fashion, The needs of women

Calgarians brave cold, COVID for Boxing Day deals

Malls aren’t as busy as anticipated, say some shoppers

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Tristan Campbell has been waiting patiently for this day for years — though he likely didn’t expect it to be quite this cold.

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But braving a frosty Boxing Day morning paid off as he took home a new 75-inch TV from Calgary’s Beacon Hill Best Buy. He paid for the newest addition to his living room with gift cards of Christmases and Father’s Days past, which he’d been stockpiling the past three years.

“I’ve been in Calgary for 40 years, so braving the cold is nothing new to me,” said Campbell of the frigid -30 C when he headed out for the store’s 8 a.m. opening.

The COVID-19 pandemic, specifically the fast-spreading Omicron variant, was a concern for Campbell, but the pros of a Boxing Day outing outweighed the cons for him. He chose to head out of his house instead of shopping online so he could “swing a deal” by bartering with the salesperson on a warranty.

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“It’s becoming part of life; you just have to accept it,” he said of the virus’s effect on shopping. “It’s like, get in, get out as fast as you can. If it’s too crowded, I usually just won’t even go in.”

Capacity limits for retail stores and malls are more than double what they were last year. Alberta’s current public health restrictions for shopping centres and shops allow up to a third of the usual fire code occupancy, compared to just 15 per cent last year.

Tristan Campbell (R) gets a hand loading his new TV into a truck from staff at the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Campbell has been saving his gift cards for 2-3 years (approximately $1,400) and had enough for the new TV.
Tristan Campbell (R) gets a hand loading his new TV into a truck from staff at the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Campbell has been saving his gift cards for 2-3 years (approximately $1,400) and had enough for the new TV. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

Where possible, the province is still encouraging pickup, delivery and online shopping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the Retail Council of Canada suggested people are looking forward to heading out to the shops in person again.

“Canadians are ready to put the disruption of COVID behind them and are looking forward to returning to brick-and-mortar stores,” Diane J. Brisebois, the RCC’s president and CEO, said in an October lookahead to the holiday shopping season.

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The RCC’s annual holiday shopping survey, which looked at the intentions of 2,500 Canadians, estimated around 63 per cent of purchases would be made in-store this holiday season, a bump from 58 per cent in 2020.

Campbell made a point of getting out early to beat an expected onslaught of deal-hunters — he was one of the first people in the shop Sunday morning. He said spent about a half-hour total in the store and said it wasn’t all that busy.

“I feel like people are probably waiting for it to be a bit warmer out,” he said.

“Maybe later in the day when the sun’s out, it might be a little more chaotic.”

Sales associates line up electronic TV equipment at the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Customers hit the store for Boxing Day deals.
Sales associates line up electronic TV equipment at the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Customers hit the store for Boxing Day deals. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

On the other side of the city later in the day, the foot traffic did ramp up slightly. Sunridge Mall had a few shops with short queues of people waiting to get inside but some shoppers were pleased to see fewer people than they anticipated.

“Not as busy as I thought,” said Ryan Machuk. “I thought there’d be a lot more people here but it seems like any normal day.”

Outside the nearby Best Buy in Sunridge, around a dozen people were waiting in the cold, queued up to get inside. Mojib Azizi was shopping for an upcoming early-year birthday present for a family member and a new iPhone for himself.

“(The line) doesn’t look that long. It’ll be like this anywhere we go, so we might as well just get it over with.”

Javit Aguirre hoists a PS5 console as he leaves the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Customers hit the store for Boxing Day deals.
Javit Aguirre hoists a PS5 console as he leaves the Beacon Hill Best Buy store in Calgary on Sunday, December 26, 2021. Customers hit the store for Boxing Day deals. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

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Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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