Hawke's Bay shoppers are expected to storm the shops on Boxing Day for bargains but are being advised to take advantage of existing discounts before Christmas.

Boxing Day sales are usually a chance for stores to offer discounts on end-of-line or Christmas stock, but many stores are already offering discounts.

The recent trend has prompted the New Zealand Retailers Association to warn shoppers to get their purchasing in fast or risk missing out on what they really want.

Last year's Paymark Boxing Day figures for Hawke's Bay showed shoppers splurged $3.1 million on sales, up 12.9 per cent from the previous year.


Figures released for the first two weeks of December show that shoppers in Hawke's Bay have already spent $61.5 million in the pre-Christmas rush.

Nationwide, Kiwis have splashed out a total of $2.2 billion so far, which is up 7.7 per cent from the corresponding period last year.

Bay Plaza centre manager Robyn Burns, in Hastings, said that now the Plaza refurbishment had been completed, they'd found the foot traffic there was "well up" on last year.

"We are quite amazed at the volume of foot traffic that happens after 6pm at night," she said.

The Bay Plaza Boxing Day sales had become "legendary".

"Our foot traffic tends to increase by three-fold," she said.

"It is by far our busiest day of the year."

"Without a doubt" shoppers could expect to pick up bargains on Boxing Day, she said.

"Discounting is a part of retail and has been established for probably the last three years but nothing can quite match the sales volumes and the offers provided by Kmart in particular.

"I wouldn't hold off shopping now because you run the risk of not getting what you want."

While she could not "spill the beans", Kmart would have some great Boxing Day offers.

Retailers Association retail-store adviser Russell Sinclair said while Boxing Day sales continued to grow each year, this year had seen retailers nationwide adopt discounting practices throughout the year.

"Pre-Christmas discounting has now become very widespread; there's some very significant discounts."

Competition among retailers drove them to try to 'up' each other's good deals, he said.

"People shouldn't hold back and wait for Boxing Day, they may miss out on something."

The sales themselves were still a shopping period of considerable importance, with families taking part as a recreational activity.

Voucher-giving at Christmas had grown, he said.

As a consequence, many voucher recipients made a beeline to the Boxing Day sales to "get more bang for their buck".