Kiwis' major seasonal spend-fest up by $500m

By Nicholas Jones, Harkanwal Singh

Retailers offer online option for crowd-shy Boxing Day shoppers as confidence surges

Shanesse Renae (left) and Emma Good join the December crowds at the Westfield St Lukes mall. Photo / Chris Gorman
Shanesse Renae (left) and Emma Good join the December crowds at the Westfield St Lukes mall. Photo / Chris Gorman

Shoppers will descend on the Boxing Day sales today - but New Zealanders have already splurged nearly $500 million more than they did four years ago on Christmas shopping.

The surge in spending confidence is shown by a comparison of electronic transaction data, adjusted for inflation.

According to Paymark figures, Kiwis spent nearly $500 million more than they did four years ago in the first three weeks of December. Spending for the whole country increased by 16 per cent over the same period.

The biggest rise was in Palmerston North and Auckland/Northland, at 28 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Spending in Wanganui and Marlborough was largely static, while the West Coast was the only region where spending fell, by 1 per cent.

Paymark processes about three-quarters of New Zealand's electronic transactions and its figures show Christmas spending for the whole country has been steadily increasing, after it fell between 2007 and 2008.

Despite the increase in Christmas spending, thousands of shoppers will brave the crowds competing for bargains at today's Boxing Day sales.

Last year malls reported lines of eager shoppers waiting for doors to open at 9am, with cars later nose-to-tail for more than 500m from Westfield's St Lukes mall in Auckland and long waits for parks.

In light of that disruption, some retailers are advertising to entice those who want both peace and a bargain.

The Warehouse has urged customers to use its online shopping system to select the best deals, and then collect the goods in store at a time when the crowds have thinned.

On Boxing Day last year 380,000 customers came through the doors of its stores, and this year the retailer's online shopping deals have been available since 7am yesterday.

And for the first time, electronics retailer Dick Smith has included a QR scanning code on its top sale items featured in newspaper advertisements and in-store flyers. Using the store's mobile app, customers can scan the QR codes to buy the goods directly - skipping checkout queues and crowds in the stores.

"Instead of spending time in a queue, they can pick up a flyer in store, go have a coffee, put their feet up and make their Boxing Day purchases from their mobile phone," said Nick Abboud, chief executive of Dick Smith, Australia and New Zealand.

Another option for those not brave enough to head to the malls is online auction websites, as those unhappy with Christmas gifts look to offload them.

Between lunchtime on Christmas Day and Boxing Day morning last year, more than 20,000 new items had been posted on Trade Me - with items like books, ties, handbags and kitchen appliances all featuring heavily.


Surviving the Boxing Day sales

• Go online - many retailers have deals available to buy on the internet.

• Make a budget - just because something is 50 per cent off, doesn't mean you can afford it or, for that matter, really need it.

• Arrive early - shopping malls and centres will be packed much earlier than normal, so give yourself plenty of time to find a park.

• Or catch the bus - public transport might take a little longer from A to B, but could still end up much faster if the wait for a carpark tops an hour.

- NZ Herald

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