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Malls open early as bargain hunters head out for Boxing Day shopping blitz

Shoppers rest between Boxing Day bargain hunting on Dec. 26, 2014. CITYNEWS

Crowds packed Toronto’s Eaton Centre Friday as shoppers across the country hit the stores for the annual Boxing Day discounts.

The downtown shopping centre was one of several major malls across Canada opening their doors earlier than usual to accommodate bargain hunters.

Click here to see a list of mall hours and what’s open and closed on Boxing Day.

Twenty-four-year-old Michelle McMullen made the trip with her mother, snapping up three bags full of new clothes in under an hour, she said.

“We know what we want. Go in, manoeuvre around the large crowds in the stores, grab our stuff and get to the front as soon as possible. Try not to try too much stuff on because that will slow you down,” she said.

Despite scoring some sought-after items, McMullen said she thought the savings weren’t as significant as she’d hoped.

Still, the outing gave her a chance to spend time with her mother — a ritual they’ve kept up for 12 years, she said.

“It can bring people closer together,” McMullen said. “I guess (there’s) a little consumerism in me but it’s definitely a bonding experience.”

“My mom’s pretty good. She’s pretty quick but sometimes she slows me down.”

A online survey commissioned by cash-back shopping site Ebates.ca found that about 40 per cent of Canadians plan to shop on Boxing Day.

While the day typically brings out the crowds, the Retail Council of Canada has said holiday promotions are more like a marathon than a sprint, since many stores also take part in earlier Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Kyle Granes said the bargains he spotted were underwhelming when compared to deals on Black Friday, a relatively recent addition to price-slashing promotional events at Canadian stores.

“Which makes no sense, considering this is Christmas — this is one of the biggest festivals for shopping,” he said while waiting for his girlfriend in a clothing store.

Joe Halabi, 46, was passing through town on a family trip from Edmonton and braved the bustling Eaton Centre — which he said paled in comparison to the shopping frenzy at the West Edmonton Mall.

He wasn’t blown away by the sales, he said, and questioned whether Boxing Day is really that big a deal for discounts.

“I think it’s more of a gimmick (for) the owners of the stores to get rid of their old product or even some of the stuff that’s been sitting there for a bit,” he said.

“There is the odd deal but you’ve got to be smart how to shop.”

Did you score any deals this Boxing Day? Tell us about it in the comments.