Shoppers across Canada fired up their web browsers and formed lines outside storefronts on Wednesday, hoping to take advantage of a number of Boxing Day deals available online and in stores.

Scores of retailers carried on with the post-Christmas tradition of slashing prices, though consumers are often faced with limited inventory as the day wears on.

In Toronto, dozens of shoppers sprinted into a downtown Best Buy store as soon as the retailer’s doors swung open at 6 a.m. local time. The first person in line nabbed his spot at midnight.

Just a block away, at the Eaton Centre shopping mall, scores of consumers crushed into stores offering Boxing Day deals. One mother interviewed by CP24’s Jamie Gutfreund said her family tried to start their shopping early, but still weren’t able to beat the masses.

“It’s been crazy,” she said, alongside her husband and son. “I thought we’d get up early and everything would be just so quiet and we’d be done before the crowds. I was wrong.”

The woman said she was looking for a pair of leather boots, while her son wanted new shoes. Her husband accompanied them with a rolling bag, referring to himself as the family “pack mule.”

Dec. 26 is among the busiest sales days for North American retailers. Though there’s been a reported increase in Canadians participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales events that have roots in the United States, the pull of Boxing Day remains strong.

Further west, in Edmonton, bargain hunters lined up outside a Best Buy as the temperature hovered around - 18 C. A number of those shoppers layered blankets over their winter jackets.

Shopper Steve Hohner, the first person in line, began standing outside the store at 1:20 a.m. He said he has lined up for Boxing Day deals “a couple” times before and was hoping to pick up an Xbox.

Standing several spots behind Hohner was Jean-Pierre Chiasson, who said it was his first time lining up outside a store on Boxing Day. He came prepared with a reusable shopping bag, in hopes of buying some DVDs.

Many Canadians -- about 62 per cent -- planned to seek out deals this Boxing Day, according to a survey released by the Bank of Montreal on Wednesday.

One-in-five of those shoppers are looking to spend money on themselves, BMO says, while another 34 per cent want to find deals for themselves and others.

Most of that spending activity will be happening in Alberta, the survey suggests. But, if the poll results ring true, Maritimers and Ontarians are also eager to find deals.

Quebec, in the meantime, was expected to see the least spending activity this Boxing Day.

“Boxing Day is treated by many as a shopping holiday in Canada, and is as big as Black Friday in the United States,” BMO Vice President Su McVey said in a release.

The survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between Oct. 11 and Oct. 16, 2012. According to BMO, the results are accurate within a 3.1 per cent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.

Though scores of Canadians plan to crush into malls this Boxing Day, many online retailers are hoping to reel in new shoppers with special promotions such as free shipping.

An online flyer for Sears Canada boasts a “Boxing Week” sale with discounts on big-ticket items such as high-definition televisions and a washer and dryer combo. Bad Boy Furniture is offering up to 80 per cent off on select items, with some deals are available until Jan. 16.

But, as with all big sales, inventory is limited and competition can be stiff.

Shoppers who didn’t get up early for virtual “door crasher” events Wednesday can still find decent bargains, says Ran Ravitz of the deal-sharing website

“A lot of the deals that are available online will definitely be available in the stores as well,” Ravitz said in an interview with CTV News Channel.

He does, however, concede that more and more Canadians are opting to shop online.

“In the past years, it was more ‘brick-and-mortar,’ but what we’re going to see this year is huge growth for online shopping on Boxing Day,” he said.