Boxing Day shopping was busy this year as Canadians searched for deals, according to a retail analyst who says people should assess sales carefully before buying.

Bruce Winder, president of Bruce Winder Retail, said it’s still too early to discern how many people took advantage of the annual shopping holiday. But he said all anecdotal indications so far show retailers had a good day.

“It looks like it was pretty busy overall on Boxing Day,” he told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday. “Having said that, Boxing Day is just one of many days now.”

Winder said Boxing Day has shifted from a single day of sales to more of a multi-week discount event, so it remains to be seen how retailers performed. 

 “It’s less about the day and more about the two-week period,” he said.

PANDEMIC IMPACTS

He added that pandemic shopping trends are playing a role in this year’s deals, as more shoppers focus online.

“It’s just so easy now to buy online, there’s so many deals, you can see them easily,” he said. “Stores are still important, but there’s less of a reason to go to stores.”

He noted that many consumers bought sizeable electronics while stuck at home during the pandemic, so the retail industry is not seeing the robust sales it was expecting.

“Consumer electronics is having a bit of an off year, people bought a lot of consumer electronics during the pandemic and they’re sort of saturated,” he said.

MISLEADING DEALS

Some retailers might advertise steep discounts, but Winder warned that in reality, products might only be priced slightly lower than they were in the lead-up to Boxing Day.

“You have to really check, do the research on the item,” he said.

“Some retailers are playing a little chicken with the consumer, thinking the consumer will buy at nominal discounts like they did a few years ago. Those days are done.”

The Competition Bureau of Canada has also flagged the possibility of misleading deals.

In a social media post, the watchdog urged consumers to report instances of a regular price advertised as a deal.