With the presents unwrapped, stockings unstuffed and leftovers in the fridge, shoppers hit stores in the Comox Valley on Boxing Day, and despite limited shopping hours, some stores experienced their best sales day of the year.
“It was an excellent time; a bit before and after Christmas,” said Valerie Porteous, Comox Business in Action current president and owner of Roxanne’s Fashions at the Comox Centre Mall. “We start Boxing Day sales earlier but do see a significant increase in traffic.”
Porteous said one of the biggest issues retailers in the Valley face is to ensure people continue shopping locally. In order to facilitate that, she explained stores have to create exciting sales, have good prices and exciting events.
“Overall, Boxing Day was very positive. We had people waiting at the door before we opened. Our mall in particular was very busy.”
Porteous noted although mall hours were reduced, the day ranked as one of the highest sale days on a dollar-per-hour basis.
Although holiday shopping is close to its end, she said retailers can help shoppers to keep coming through the doors during the early months of the year.
“We keep sales prices going, ensure exciting events and makes sure there’s something for all price points,” Porteous said. “We also stock items for those travelling on vacations with swimsuits and summers dresses, we bring some of our summer stock in early.”
Meanwhile, Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association executive director Kim Stubblefield said Boxing Day in downtown Courtenay is typically less busy than the weeks leading up to Christmas — and many stores chose to remain closed on Boxing Day.
“I’m not sure about the rest of the week, but Boxing Day itself, a lot of the stores took that as a day off,” she said. “Traditionally it’s before Christmas that’s the big time for downtown.”
And the weeks leading up to Christmas were very successful this year, according to Stubblefield, especially thanks to the first ever WinterFest in downtown Courtenay.
Various new events besides the annual Christmas Parade brought shoppers to the city centre during the six weeks of WinterFest from Nov. 16 to Dec. 22.
“I think the businesses are all really pleased,” added Stubblefield. “We had lots of events going on downtown and a lot of people came down, there were lots of sales on, and anecdotally, businesses did really well from the Christmas sales.”
DCBIA president Mark Middleton agreed, adding the DCBIA will likely make WinterFest “even bigger and better next year.”
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Although the exact origins are unclear, some theories on the creation of Boxing Day stem from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, where metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect ‘Christmas boxes’ of money or presents on the first weekday after the holiday as thanks for good service throughout the year.