By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — A holiday which Canadians have dubbed Boxing Day seemed to have inspired a flurry of post-Christmas shopping at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara on Wednesday.
While national retailers have expressed some concern about a less than stellar holiday shopping season, local stores were filled, making for a happy day of returns for mall retailers.
"I just toured the mall and it seems like everybody's out there making purchases and spending their gift cards," said Mary Whelan, mall manager, at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. "The mall is extremely full."
Whelan said a casual glance at the parking lot showed about 50 percent Canadian license plates and 50 percent American plates, and added that overall, an outlet mall tends to draw the shoppers seeking to save money due to economic concerns, despite citizenship.
"I think people have definitely held back this year and thats works to our advantage," Whelan said. "They can go to the outlet mall and buy the same quality products at great savings."
Boxing Day is an English holiday, traditionally held the day following Christmas, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their superiors. Canadians seem to celebrate the day as Americans do, heading to the malls in droves on Dec. 26.
At Charlotte Russe, a clothing boutique for young females, traffic was brisk and on par with last year's numbers, according to store manager Danna Borelli, who said many shoppers were neighbors from across the border. "Our numbers are showing about 70 percent of our clientele today is Canadian," she noted.
International visitors are one of the reasons that Vince Pagano of Rainbow Airbrush enjoys the location of his kiosk. "I love this place," Pagano said. "We get people from all over the world."
Pagano, who has operated a kiosk at the mall for 23 years, said his holiday business has been on par with previous years, but added that "I have the ability to adapt to trends." This year the hot sellers were "I love Justin Bieber" and boy band One Direction T-shirts, but he also designs at customer's requests, including a recent shirt that he airbrushed to read: "I love India."
"I make good gifts," Pagano noted, "especially at the last minute."
Overall, the mall manager said that efforts to draw more high-end stores to the Military Road outlet mall is another reason that traffic has remained consistent over the holidays.
"We won't actually know until the middle of January," Whelan said. "But I definitely anticipate beating last year's numbers."