Bumper Boxing Day for retailers

BARGAIN HUNTING: Alex Lie, left, Helen Han, and Tide Lie load a TV into their car at the Northwood Supa Centa on Boxing Day.
BARGAIN HUNTING: Alex Lie, left, Helen Han, and Tide Lie load a TV into their car at the Northwood Supa Centa on Boxing Day.

Canterbury retailers received a belated Christmas present, taking in more than $12 million as part of a nationwide Boxing Day windfall.

Paymark figures released this afternoon have cheered businesses throughout the country, with a 13.4 per cent increase for Boxing Day sales figures across New Zealand compared with 2011.

The company, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, processed over two million transactions worth a total of $120m - a $14.2m increase on last year's sales.

Canterbury retailers raked in $12.1m, with the region's 13.1 per cent increase just below the national average.

Nationally, Gisborne took top place with a 22.9 per cent increase, while Marlborough's 7.5 per cent was the lowest of the 17 regions.

Paymark sales and marketing head Paul Whiston said the figures were a "fantastic finish" to the holiday period, with the 13.4 per cent rise providing the first double-digit increase in five years.

He said the biggest boost came in the electronics sector, with sales up 31.7 per cent on last year, while jewellery (24.4 per cent) and clothing and apparel (20.7 per cent) were also in demand.

The figures were a sign that the country was returning to the levels of growth seen before the global financial crisis, he said.


Westfield Riccarton's car park was full by 9am and cars in search of parks became repeatedly jammed at the Tower Junction shopping centre.

Westfield spokeswoman Deb McGhie said it had been a bumper day.

"There are a lot of sales being made. Whether or not that will be the same level as last year, we won't know until the end of the month," she said.

Ballantynes sales manager Liz Mills said it had been a "stonkingly" good day for the department store.

"There is certainly a lot of people around. We are delighted. This is a good day for us," she said.

"Everybody is so relaxed and smiling. The Christmas spirit is still alive and well."

Shoppers Ping Wang and Xuan Liu popped into Smiths City in Colombo St to buy a sofa after escaping from Westfield's car park.

"We got there at 9am and there were no parking spaces," Wang said.

The couple usually hit the Boxing Day sales and spent about $1500 last year on items for their baby daughter, Kayla Liu, Wang said.

It was more frantic at the Northwood Supa Centa.

Kade Atkinson struggled through the car park with a widescreen television set.

He recently finished refurbishing his Bishopdale home and thought a new TV set would match the decor.

Despite saving about $700 on the retail price, Atkinson was not too keen on the crowds.

"This is my first time going to Boxing Day sales and I'm already over it," he said.

Fendalton family Helen Han, husband Tide Lie and son Alex Lie squeezed a widescreen TV set into the back of their small car.

They saved about $500 on the retail price.

However, the set was so large it took up the boot and back seats of Han's car.

She had to wait at Northwood while her husband dropped the set home and rweturned to pick her up.

University of Canterbury senior marketing lecturer Sussie Morrish, a consumer behaviour expert, said strong pre-Christmas sales figures suggested many had done their shopping.

"Last year, the Boxing Day sales numbers in Christchurch were high. People hadn't finished their shopping before Christmas because of the December 23 quakes," she said.

Lack of parking, regular sales by big retailers and holiday burnout were possible reasons for sluggish sales at some stores.

"I think that for many shops, such as Briscoes, Rebel Sport and Smiths City, people get used to sales coming along and you can actually wait for the next one,'' she said.

"Maybe [shoppers are] still tired from Christmas celebrations and still finishing up the last bottles of wine or beer and can't be bothered to go.

''They might prefer to go for a drive or spend time with family and friends who have come to spend the holidays with them."

Price was the key factor drawing people to Boxing Day sales.

"These people [who go to shops] want instant gratification. They really want to be able to get hold of this item," Morrish said.

"They think, 'I have waited long enough until after Christmas'."


The Press