Boxing Day is playing out differently on opposite ends of the city. While Hamilton's shopping malls celebrate the annual extravaganza with banners boasting blowout sales, many of the independent stores on Ottawa Street simply put on the “Sorry, we're closed” sign.

'People have their plans before they come to Lime Ridge. We have very smart shoppers.' - Nicole Young, marketing manager of Lime Ridge Mall

Lime Ridge Mall is open for 12 hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. H&M, for example, gave out scratch cards to the first 300 customers.

Although the statistics on traffic and sales won't be available until next month, Nicole Young, the mall's marketing manager, said this year's Boxing Day is comparable to Black Friday, thanks to shoppers who are eager to spend their Christmas money and use their gift cards.

“On the visual, it's just as busy as any other Boxing Day,” she told CBC Hamilton.

While the mall has sent security guards to direct the extra flow of cars in the parking lots, Young said many savvy shoppers choose to be dropped off and then picked up.

“People have their plans before they come to Lime Ridge. We have very smart shoppers.”

Hamilton Street Railway also added extra buses on two routes — 25 Upper Wentworth and 25 Upper Wellington — to accommodate the extra traffic.

At Jackson Square Mall, Nathan Irwin, co-owner of The Works, welcomes his first Boxing Day at the mall since his franchise restaurant opened in October.

He said the crowd has been steady all day, adding that Jackson Square doesn't get as much traffic as Lime Ridge Mall.

"We didn't expect a big crowd anyways."

Quiet day on Ottawa Street

Along Ottawa Street, however, the parking metres covered in ice sit idling Thursday afternoon, as the snow buildup on the sidewalks slowly turns into slush.

Boxing Day on Ottawa Street

Sean Queroub, president of Nova Sewing Centre, shows off his store's biggest draw on Boxing Day. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

Patty Hayes, executive director of the Ottawa Street BIA, said many businesses are closed on Boxing Day and much of the week. Those that remain open often run shortened hours.

The BIA does not enforce hours or operation for the stores in the neighbourhood, Hayes said.

“So the beauty for them is that they can make the business decisions that are right for them and their families.”

But for the few ones that choose to jump on the Boxing Day bandwagon, the sales are as attractive as their shopping mall counterparts.

Sean Queroub, president of Nova Sewing Centre, said his store has been offering Boxing Day discounts for over 10 years. From zippers to threads, the entire store is 20 to 40 per cent off. But the sewing machines are the biggest draw with a minimum discount of 40 per cent off.

“Today is mainly buyers instead of shoppers,” he said, as he helped a customer box a $2,700 sewing machine. It was on sale for $1,900.

“They know what they want. They are educated. They are waiting for it.”

Boxing Day is commonly observed in Commonwealth countries and not in the United States, where the the biggest sale takes place on Black Friday in late November. Many stores south of the border, however, offer “day after Christmas” sales.