Boxing Day sales set tills ringing

The tills were ringing a merry tune for Palmerston North retailers who raked in millions in the Boxing Day sales, nearly topping the country in spending growth stakes.

Shoppers hitting the Boxing Day sales in Palmerston North dug deep, as shown in figures released by Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions.

Palmerston North shoppers spent 18.3 per cent more on Boxing Day than in the same period last year, despite the majority of Broadway Ave shops closing for the peak trading day.

Retailers took $3.5 million in sales on December 26 - a large increase on last year's takings of $2.9m.

The growth on last year's sales was pipped only by Gisborne, which had a 22.9 per cent increases in Boxing Day sales on last year, to the total $1.3m in takings this year.

Paymark's head of sales and marketing, Paul Whiston, said the figures represented growing consumer confidence. But Palmerston North's sales boom was unprecedented, Mr Whiston said.

"It's unusual to have the smaller regions lead in terms of excess growth in this period."

It was difficult to speculate on why people were spending more.

As an annual fixture, the Boxing Day races at Awapuni could not have been solely responsible for a year-on-year increase - but big ticket items going on sale and balmy temperatures may have stimulated the spending mood, Mr Whiston predicted.

Sure enough, Paymark recorded significant growth in the electronics sector, including computers and phones, with sales up 31.7 per cent annually, Boxing Day was also strong for clothing and jewellery sales, whereas there was zero growth in the gardening and building industry retail sales.

Warm weather around the country appeared partly responsible for a marked 22 per cent increase on last years' food and restaurant sector sales.

"People obviously had to have a nice cold beer or an ice cream after a day in the malls," Mr Whiston said.

Nationwide, spending was up 13.4 per cent on last year, with retailers taking in more than $1.4 billion in more than two million transactions on Boxing Day this year, and was the first time in five years sales had reached double-digit growth on the previous year's totals.

Retailers Association spokeswoman Louise Evans-McDonald said the spend-up, after spending had slowed in the final days before Christmas, had exceeded expectations - topping last Boxing Day by about 7 per cent.

"There were obviously a lot of strong offers out there and we've got a public that's well geared up for [sales]

Manawatu Standard