'The Base is insane': Boxing Day chaos
Waikato Boxing Day bargain hunters were out early yesterday swarming the city's malls for a deal - if they could get through the traffic.
By 10am cars were backed up on Avalon Drive, Wairere Drive and Te Rapa Rd, where queues had been growing since before 9am to grab a prime parking spot at The Base - set to make it the centre's biggest day.
Meanwhile, in the Hamilton CBD shoppers were queuing outside shop doors waiting for retailers to open.
Extra car parking on open paddocks was opened at The Base.
Hamilton shoppers Michaela Cairns and Michael Gilling planned ahead to beat the traffic by heading to The Base at 8.30am in search of a new barbecue.
They didn't have a set budget in mind but went to about four stores to get the best deal.
Ms Cairns said the discounts she found "weren't particularly massive" and although she'd been hoping for a better deal on the barbecue, was happy with her day's shopping.
But Mr Gilling had had enough of the crowd when the Times caught up with the pair.
"There's too many people around, I just want to go home now," he said.
Many harried shoppers ditched the Te Rapa mega mall in favour of newly-revamped Centre Place.
Courtney Boyce, 16, said she and her mother had started at The Base at 8.30am but soon headed into the central city as numbers swelled.
"The Base is insane. This is nice and calm," she said.
The majority of shoppers spoken to by the Times said they didn't have a budget, and were out to spend up large.
Gay Brodie from the Coromandel travelled to Hamilton with her daughter, Laura McQuilkin, who was visiting from Brisbane.
Mrs Brodie said they had bought a lot of jewellery for upcoming 21st birthday presents.
"Now's the time to buy because everything's half price," she said.
Centre Place marketing manager Tina Boyd said although they had not yet crunched the numbers they were thrilled with the amount of shoppers. "We're incredibly happy with the foot traffic today . . . and the tills have been ringing so the retailers are very happy," she said.
The Base was on its way to its biggest day ever, said Tainui Group Holdings general manager, property, Nathan York.
Shoppers were still hunting for bargains as the Waikato Times went to print last night, but Mr York expected foot traffic numbers to beat last year's record.
"That was circa 70,000 and we'll push through that this year. So it'll be over 70,000 - by how much I'm not sure at this stage, but we'll be better than last year."
The carpark was full and retailers were busy at the tills when Mr York was on site during the day. "They [retailers] all looked pretty happy with the amount of patronage and customers and foot traffic on site. It's a busy period, so they kind of reflect the following day, after things close."
The "fantastic" day topped off a month of solid sales, said Mr York.