While not a final statistical conclusion by any means, a visit to a Sault shopping centre by SooToday Wednesday showed many Saultites have enjoyed the bricks and mortar Christmas and Boxing Week retail shopping experience over online holiday purchases, time spent with family and friends considered the most precious Christmas gift.
“I got everything that I wanted for Christmas and more. Time with family, good stuff. I did a little Christmas shopping online but I like to come out and see people, talk to people and actually see the merchandise in my hand before I buy it,” said shopper Mike Armitage at Station Mall.
“I didn’t do any online shopping this year. It was in stores. You can see the item. You can see what you’re getting. (Boxing Week sales) seem to be pretty good,” said Michelle Caputo.
“Family’s more important (for Christmas),” Caputo emphasized.
“I got everything for Christmas and more. I had my family and great food. I got a beautiful sweater and what I’m looking for today is a jacket. I prefer in store shopping. I prefer to see the product in my hand (before purchasing). I’ve always wanted to shop local anyway,” said Michael Sanchioni.
“I wanted family time and that’s what I got,” said shopper Linda Quevillon, though she stated she was delighted with a gift of earrings from her children.
“I prefer to come to the stores,” Quevillon said.
Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, online shopping is more popular with the younger set.
“I like online better. It’s a better selection and easier to find things,” said Travis Quevillon, Linda Quevillon’s son, a university student home for the holidays.
“There are better options online,” said a local shopper who identified himself as Brian, though he said he had purchased some items from local stores during Boxing Week sales Wednesday.
For some shoppers – understandably – geography plays a part in shopping, whether at Christmas/Boxing Day or throughout the entire year.
“Everything is online (for my family). Because we’re from Wawa we don’t have a lot of options but we buy lots (when in the Sault). We fill up our truck after shopping at Station Mall, Walmart, Winners,” smiled Carrie Belanger.
What of bricks and mortar retailers and their employees, many of which have been hit hard by online shopping and the shopping public hesitant to venture outdoors due to the spread of COVID-19 (currently the Omicron variant)?
“(Shopping) traffic was decent and sales were better than expected, absolutely, for Christmas and Boxing Day,” said Tim Hodgkinson, The Source manager.
“For Christmas sales we did well, and Boxing Day sales this week have been quite quiet. The first day we were back (Monday, Dec. 27) was busy but the last two days have been fairly quiet, not as busy as expected. Normally we’re way busier. I think a lot of people ordered from the website (Tip Top online shopping) once we got lower on the availability of sizes,” said Ramona Dodd, Tip Top Tailors manager.
“I think a lot of people, with the COVID numbers going up as high as they are, were a little more nervous about coming out to the stores,” Dodd said, while emphasizing Tip Top is diligent with COVID protocols.
All is good so far with Tip Top in general, whether the store’s customers shop in person or online, Dodd said.
“There are events (such as Christmas holiday gatherings, and a multitude of other holidays and family occasions) that people want to dress up for.”