Anzac Day: Shoppers stay home

By Michael Dickison

Shoppers were not out in force on Newmarket streets for Anzac Day. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Shoppers were not out in force on Newmarket streets for Anzac Day. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A rising budget-conscious mindset mixed with swelling reverence for the country's war history made for a sober half-day of Anzac Day shopping.

Major retailers took out advertisements promoting Anzac Day bargains, but Newmarket Business Association chief executive Ashley Church said shops would be lucky to get even normal mid-week levels of trade.

"People do treat Anzac Day as a sombre event, and give it the respect - whereas Christmas [has become] just a commercial activity," Mr Church said.

"Even with Easter, people look at it as an opportunity to trade, but on Anzac Day there's not as much determination to push the boundary."

At Westfield in the CBD, shopper Margaret Woag bought a jersey from The Warehouse - one of the retailers promoting Anzac Day bargains.

But shopping was not the day's focus. "We went to church this morning, we sang the anthem. I was just a bit cold," she said.

Others said they were out for supplies, not the special bargains of the national holiday.

Mr Church said the day's trading was also emblematic of a wider Anzac trend since the global economic crash in 2007.

Both New Zealanders and Australians had become more value-focused shoppers.

"After 2007 there was quite a radical change in the ethos of Kiwis and Australians. There was an emphasis on excesses before, but that became more charity and community focused.

"I don't think it's just about saving money. The psyche of the nation as shoppers [is] that the values before 2007 perhaps weren't all that [desirable]."

Newmarket had once promoted itself as the high-end, haute couture fashion capital and thrived. After 2007, the same promotions began to come across as pretentious.

In the past two years, the business district broadened its focus beyond the high-end and trade has recovered, with more sales of lesser value.

A Nielsen consumer research survey, released this week, also found increased bargain-hunting.

Two-thirds of New Zealand shoppers said they now looked for price promotions at supermarkets.

The Restaurant Association said there were price wars among businesses in some parts of the country as customers became more price-driven.

Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said a different type of consumer had emerged who was keen to live within their means.

"I don't think we are ever going to go back to things as they were. I think the consumer has changed forever," he said this week.

- NZ Herald

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