Ruck and mall as bargain-hunters arrive

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2012
Early estimates put this year's crowd at Te Awa close to 50,000.
BEN CURRAN

Early estimates put this year's crowd at Te Awa close to 50,000.

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Shoppers at Hamilton's The Base were forced to beat the feet and walk as the masses converged on one of the country's largest malls yesterday.

The increasingly popular Christmas tradition of Boxing Day shopping brought out shoppers in full force.

Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio said Te Awa The Base was likely to break last year's record for foot traffic.

Te Awa had 41,500 potential customers through its doors on Boxing Day last year. But early estimates put this year's crowd close to 50,000.

Waikato Security staff were called on to double as parking attendants as traffic burst out on to grassy areas - and even over the railway lines in Te Kowhai Rd.

Aucklander Emmett Howe arrived at The Base at 8.30am ready to hunt for earlybird bargains. Boxing Day at The Base was becoming a tradition and he had been along the last couple of years to get more bang for his Christmas bucks.

"I'm here because of the sales . . . it's been awesome," he said. "We'll be here until our feet get sore."

He was impressed with the scope of sales but said a few were a little disappointing. "If you're looking for certain things then some sales, the majority of them, are cheaper than usual. But not all of them are."

Other shoppers were out just to get the necessities and became a little sidetracked.

Ohaupo residents Bruce and Heather Christieson travelled into the city to get some new footwear but were swayed into staying a little longer with the lure of further bargains.

"You've got to be ready to spend some time if you're heading to the shops on Boxing Day," Mrs Christieson said.

They found getting to a shop counter was more difficult than finding a park as they browsed alongside thousands of other keen bargain-hunters. They did eventually get the shoes, though.

Retailers contacted by the Times were even too busy to comment as they dealt with the rush.

The car parks were also full at Centre Place and Westfield Chartwell.

Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Sandy Turner said retailers were bouncing back after a few tough years.

"The general consensus we've heard from the retailers is [the spend] is about 5 per cent up on pre-Christmas sales compared with last year and Boxing Day sales are significantly up too," she said.

"Some retailers are saying they've had record sales this year, some are saying they're significantly up on last year. Either way there's nothing negative."

She attributed some of the high spend down to bad weather that had shoppers deciding to head into stores to avoid the rain.

"Despite the spread of the retailers in the city, parks were full and the roads were packed.

"It's encouraging," she said.

Westfield Chartwell experienced congestion as shoppers searched for parks and in Te Rapa, traffic was backed up to the Avalon Dr - Te Rapa Rd intersection as crowds headed for The Base.

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- Waikato Times

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