Ready, set, shop

Gerry Phelan
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And they’re off. Chances are, by the time you read this, thousands of us will have already embarked on what has become a Christmas tradition: the Boxing Day sales are on.

Some of the promotions started well before now. Canadian Tire’s Boxing Week Savings hit their stores last Friday; a Sears flyer more than a week ago screamed “Boxing Week Prices on Now.” Online we’ve been flooded with similar messages; one sale began Christmas Eve night.

In the United States and most of mainland Canada, the in-store post-Christmas sales started yesterday. Why not here? Is it time that department stores in this province and the rest of Atlantic Canada followed the lead of other places and opened up on the morning after Christmas?

I can hear the chirping against the idea now. Store clerks and the people who toil in retail have it bad enough already, with the seven-days-a-week shopping hours.

Let them have their couple of days to relax and celebrate the holiday. I’m good with that, but what if some of them would prefer to work? And what if some of us would prefer to shop? Shouldn’t it be about choice?

I know those who really want to shop can do so anyway. It’s called online shopping and it’s catching on like wildfire.

Years ago, I swore I’d never trust the Internet with my credit card number. Well, that changed after I saw the convenience of booking hotels and flights, ordering books and music, and my latest foray into the online shopping experience — Black Friday.

Why line up when, with coffee in hand, I can sit at my home computer and order a brand new laptop?

The price was awesome and the delivery was free. In fact, delivery was the only real drawback as I wasn’t home when Canada Post dropped by.

A day later I had a notice in my mailbox saying I could pick it up at the post office in two days’ time. Fortunately, a postal worker — despite the Christmas madness — was very accommodating and gave me the package a day earlier when I was there on other business.

Still, I prefer in-person shopping. I really enjoy the conversations with the clerks at the supermarket and the outgoing young man at the register at Walmart who, on the Saturday before Christmas, was all smiles and welcoming.

The people who stood outside in the cold awaiting their turn at M and M Meat Shops last Friday were only partially miserable.

We all knew a good bargain was worth waiting for, and it’s funny how a little discomfort can prompt people to open up and share a tale or two. You can’t get that online. I can get it today at any of my favourite shopping haunts.

I’m not advocating doing away with the Boxing Day holiday altogether, but I’m throwing the stores-opening idea out there.

If employees are willing to work and are properly compensated, why not? Don’t get me wrong — I’m no Scrooge.

I’ve worked in retail, including over the busy holiday period. It is stressful and rewarding at the same time.  

I also enjoy shopping and have already sifted through the various online sales. Today, I’ll take the plunge with the masses and see what bargains there are to be had.  Would I have done that if the stores were open yesterday? Probably.

There was a time we thought Sunday shopping wouldn’t fly. These days there are more people at Walmart and the supermarket on Sunday mornings than in most of our local churches.  

So, to the hardworking employees who toil behind the counters and stock the shelves, I hope you’ve enjoyed the past two days off. It was well deserved.

I’ll wager it won’t be long before there’ll be pressure, especially from the larger chains, to capitalize on the day-after-Christmas sales opportunities.

There’s no one asking for it yet, but like many things, it will happen when we least expect it.

Now, to get a head start on my shopping for next Christmas.  


Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at

Organizations: Canadian Tire, Walmart, Canada Post

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, United States

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