Bargain hunters queued for shops to open, overflowed car parks and caused traffic gridlocks in Napier and Hastings in an almost unprecedented spending spree yesterday.
The Boxing Day phenomena followed a record Christmas that saw some retailers beat their previous best December figures on Christmas Eve and still had six of the busiest shopping days of the year to go.
When David Mann, manager of The Warehouse in Napier, arrived at work yesterday morning there were at least 20 people waiting for the store to open.
It was the start of one of the most concentrated days of shopping of the year as thousands looking for bargains flocked into the store.
The scene was repeated at the company's Hastings store. A string of good bargains, including 50 $99 DVD players, ensured Harvey Norman's Hastings store matched its 2003 Boxing Day figures.
Dave Ranson, of the Mitre 10 Megastore in Hastings, there was a lot of out-of-town shoppers and he found people were targeting particular products.
"It was not frenzied buying or shopping for the the sake of shopping," Mr Ranson said.
There was hardly a time during the day that the company's carpark was not full.
People waited for up to 20 minutes for a table at Napier's Cappadonna Cafe.
Owner Carolyn Arnold said she had never had a day like it. She said she had prepared for it but her food cabinets had been emptied by 4pm.
Cappadonna's previous best day was during February's Art Deco Weekend.
Napier businessman Graeme Bell could not believe only half the shops in the city opened.
"For those who opened it was a fantastic day. There were a lot of people milling in the streets before the shops opened.
Many of the shoppers were holidaymakers who were here today, gone tomorrow," he said.