America’s Black Friday tradition is making a ripple in Canada, with some malls and stores opening hours earlier to offer discounts to shoppers on this side of the border.

Despite the early-morning frenzy and occasional panic at U.S. stores, the craze doesn’t have the same fever in Canada as retailers try to cash in on the sales gimmick and keep shoppers at home.

But with longer lineups and bigger crowds than in years past, it appears the ritual is catching on as Canadian retailers compete with their American counterparts.

In Toronto, lineups formed at places that opened a few hours earlier than usual, including Eaton Centre, where dozens of bargain hunters were in line before the downtown mall opened at 6 a.m., four hours before its normal opening time.

Shoppers patiently waited in line at the information desk to receive one of 100 free $10 gift cards, and they showed up as early as 4 a.m. outside H&M and Best Buy.

The crowd rapidly grew in size after the mall opened.

Charmaine, a shopper who woke up early to look for discounts at Eaton Centre, said she bought something for her niece.

“It’s a gift for her and it was a very good deal,” Charmaine told CP24 reporter Cam Woolley.

This is the first time Eaton Centre has opened its doors early on Black Friday. The mall was one of nine Cadillac Fairview shopping centres across Ontario to get the jump on Black Friday sales.

As part of the promotion, some stores in Eaton Centre are matching U.S. prices.

Meredith Vlitas, the mall's senior marketing director, told CP24 its stores are trying to cater to consumers to prevent them from heading south for the day.

“We’re uniquely positioned here in Toronto, being in the hub of downtown,” Vlitas said. “People don’t have to take the day off of work. They can come in and go shopping before work, at lunch time and after work.

“They can avoid the long lines, the commute and also help to keep Canadian dollars here at home,” Vlitas said.

Eaton Centre was one of about a dozen shopping centres to open early in the GTA, as stores offered discounts as deep as 60 per cent on certain goods. Clothing and electronics appeared to be the biggest draws.

With files from CP24 reporter Cam Woolley

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