Montrealers stood cheek-to-jowl and jostled for deals Thursday on what represents the biggest sales day of the year for local merchants.

But some Boxing Day onlookers noted that the crowds were less dense than in years past, as online shopping appears to have depleted the wall of humanity that had fought for bargains in boutiques, malls and every other retail outlet on December 26.

Mongi Bouabane, a taxi driver for 15 years, was seen standing outside Future Shop trying to coax shoppers into his cab.

Bouabane said it's usually far busier. "In the past, there was a line here for people waiting for a taxi," he said. "Maybe it's the Internet. I don't know."

According to the Quebec Retail Council, shoppers in Alberta and Ontario turn out to shop at twice the rate as those in Quebec, where nine percent had said that they intended to shop on Boxing Day.

In Quebec, stores were only permitted to open at 1 p.m., a restriction that does not apply to provinces to the west.

However in Atlantic Canada many merchants are not permitted to open on Boxing Day at all and sales resume only on Friday.

Those who haven’t stopped turning up for the bargains include Jean-Francois Latreille, who says that he has been first in line outside of the Best Buy in Lasalle for several consecutive Boxing Days, as his first-in-line status has become an annual ritual.

“It’s part of the festivities,” he told CTV Montreal. Latreille was aiming to scoop up a bargain on a computer. “I’m thinking of getting a desktop at this point $200 is a big difference, why not?

Many other consumers reported that they opt to shop in person rather than on-line because it allows them instant access to their new goods.

One manager at a local electronics store said there are a few, but not many, advantages of shopping in person.

"There's probably some TVs and tablets that you won't get online. You have to come into the store to get it," said Best Buy manager Shakeel Dilmahomed.

-With a file from The Canadian Press