Boxing Day sales attract thousands

Despite many feeling worse off financially than they did a year ago, shoppers are increasingly willing to spend on electronics and whiteware.
Despite many feeling worse off financially than they did a year ago, shoppers are increasingly willing to spend on electronics and whiteware.

Southern bargain hunters packed into shops yesterday, keeping Boxing Day tills ringing and retailers smiling.

With cooler weather perfect for pounding the pavements and stores offering shoppers heavy discounts on their products, thousands of bargain hunters hit the streets throughout the day.

Retailers said Boxing Day was the highlight of the shopping calendar.

Bargain hunters were out early, with shoppers reporting queues waiting outside The Warehouse in Invercargill.

Rugby Sports and Leisure owner Linley Carter said there had been a steady flow of people in a good mood happy to spend their money.

McLeay Jewellers owner Trevor McLeay said it was the first time he had opened his store on Boxing Day for many years.

"I was a bit shocked at how many people were in town and I'll definitely be opening again next year," he said.

He said he had sold a couple of rings to future grooms looking to propose at New Year.

Speight's Ale House manager Stephen Grieve said business at the pub had been "awesome".

"We had a lot of happy shoppers eager for lunch and I think we also provided a daycare service for many Southland husbands," he said.

Shoppers were relieved for a slightly cooler day to make the shopping experience more comfortable.

Mother and daughter Jeanette James and Alana McArley said it was the perfect weather for bargain hunting.

The Oostveen family from Wreys Bush, taking a coffee break in the sun, said they were happy with the deals they found.

A new television and clothes were in the car waiting to be taken home, Elly Oostveen said.

In Queenstown, shoppers also flocked to stores looking for a bargain.

Michael Hill Jeweller store manager Chris Hogan said the day started slowly but finished "in an absolute flurry".

He could not disclose exact numbers, but said Boxing Day sales exceeded last year's.

While Boxing Day was busy and figures released by Paymark show Southland shoppers were happy to spend their money on Christmas Eve, Southlanders were reluctant to spend up big leading in to Christmas.

In Southland, $5.5 million was spent on Christmas Eve, a 6.1 per cent increase from Christmas Eve last year, the Paymark figures show.

But figures also show Southland was the only province in the country to put less through the tills for the 21 days ended December 23. Spending fell by 0.3 per cent from $84.7m to $84.5m for the corresponding time last year.

Southland Chamber of Commerce president Dave Rohan said the drop in spending should not be seen as a doom and gloom scenario.

The region's economy was comparable with the other provinces and Southland's employment rate was better than that of other regions, Mr Rohan said.

Southlanders tended to be a little more conservative than some of the other provinces in New Zealand, and a true reflection on the region's Christmas spending should wait until the end of the year, he said.

"By the time all the figures have been looked at for the whole of December, I think Southland will be in a similar position to other regions."

The Paymark figures show Otago residents parted with $176.5 million in the three weeks leading up to Christmas, an increase of 3.7 per cent ($6.4m) on the corresponding time last year.

There was a 3.4 per cent national increase in spending for the 21 days ended December 23.

Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said Christmas Eve spending for Southland and other regions may have increased because it fell on a Monday.

Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday last year, which may have resulted in fewer businesses being open, he said.

The Southland Times