Shoppers braved both cold weather and the COVID-19 pandemic to access sales in Metro Vancouver on Boxing Day.
Lineups outside the Best Buy Kingsway in Burnaby began around 5 a.m. on Sunday, said store leader Younge Le-Roque, with some patrons waiting upwards of an hour to enter.
“Boxing Day is always our biggest day of the year and we’re prepared for it,” she told Global News.
“It’s great to see so many of our customers showed up even with the weather outside.”
On Sunday, temperatures were 10C below the seasonal average for Vancouver with a high of minus 4C and wind chill of minus 13C.
The city is among several in the province expected to see “near record temperatures” this week as a frigid Arctic air mass settles over the South Coast, according to Environment Canada.
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At the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet mall by the Vancouver International Airport, shoppers were clad in winter coats, scarves and mittens as they waited outside to access the shops.
As of last week, all retail outlets were required to have COVID-19 safety plans in place.
“We kept our distance, we wore our masks,” said one woman drove more than two hours from out of town to take her daughter shopping at the outlet.
“There was a couple of people getting angry with one of the workers trying to make sure everyone stayed six feet apart.”
The pandemic, combined with road closures due to last month’s catastrophic flooding, have wreaked havoc on B.C. supply chains leading up to the holidays.
Thomas Lai, manager of Visions Electronics in Vancouver, said his store has not been impacted.
“Actually compared to last year we are doing better,” he said Sunday, as Boxing Day shoppers trickled in.
“People know what they want, they’ve already done their homework. They come in, grab the thing they like and move on.”
Nationwide, Retail Council of Canada spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen said she expects in-person shopping may take a hit this year as the highly infectious Omicron variant drives a surge in COVID-19 cases across much of Canada.
“Because of the new variant, I think that we will see a significant shift to online shopping,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
According to Opher Baron, operations management professor at the University of Toronto, many stores have had deals since November as “companies try to smooth the demand a little bit.” It could explain why fewer people queued at shopping malls on Sunday overall, he noted.
With files from The Canadian Press
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