MONTREAL -- Like the year 2020, the traditional post-Christmas sales day took place mainly online.

The usual Dec. 26 Boxing Day frenzy, when queues are common, instead gave way to a dead calm this year.

With most stores in Quebec closed due to the pandemic, consumers cannot flock to stores looking for deals.

On Masson St., in Montreal's Rosemont neighbourhood, the commercial artery was almost deserted around 10 a.m. when the shops opened, leaving the streets to the snow and the wind.

Only a few places of business are authorized to welcome customers.

The government of Quebec decreed, two weeks ago, that only essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies could remain open from Dec. 25 to Jan, 10 in all regions, regardless of the colour code of the area.

Telecommunications or electronic repair services may also continue to be in business.

The La Source boutique was still waiting for its first customers when The Canadian Press visited. The store is only allowed to sell essential tech products.

"Usually it's busy. There is a queue. But since we opened, we have had zero customers. You are the first," said manager Hakim Ouchenir, who has had to reduce his number of employees on the floor.

Boxing Day a ghost town in 2020

The few passers-by we met, including several small families with strollers, took advantage of this day off to take a breath of fresh air rather than run to the sales.

"We did all our shopping before the holidays. We are now enjoying time with the family," said Maude Lemire.

For others, Boxing Day is far from being an expected event.

"After 17 years in Canada, I have never done Boxing Day. I find that there are interesting offers throughout the year," said Chrystelle Deligeon whose main purchase of the day was a baguette.

As with every year, Dec. 26 is a busy one for Première Moisson bakery since many vacationers come to stock up on fresh products.

Before opening, a line of customers had formed outside, said the deputy director, Pierre Lachaine.

He still expects lower sales this year.

"Since the start of the pandemic, people have come less often, but they buy more. The cost of their basket is higher," said Lachaine.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 26, 2020.