Retailers hoping to set records

By Andrew Koubaridis

Retailers will hope today's Boxing Day sales will see a repeat of a record-breaking Christmas Eve where a last-minute rush saw shoppers finally open their wallets and spend.

Today's sales follow a "massive" Christmas Eve that broke "every single record we have", Paymark's head of sales and customer relations, Paul Whiston, said.

Paymark - which processes three-quarters of all in-store electronic transactions - recorded a total of $216 million in sales. The figure was an increase of 19.2 per cent on last year. It was also the first time Paymark had seen a value over $200 million on a single day.

Mr Whiston said the four million transactions had been right across the country - "all regions were very strong".

On Tuesday night, many workers got their final pay of the year and the result was a cash injection that made people go out and spend up large.

Mr Whiston said the increase in spending started on Sunday. Until then people had been tightening their belts.

Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said Boxing Day sales were very dependent on what previous days' trading had been like.

Retailers would have plans in place but there would be an element of surprise to it, he said.

"There has been a fair bit of discounting over the last two or three days. Some people think it might go a bit lower."

This expectation could have led to some consumers holding back to take advantage of sales, he said.

"I think there would be that expectation - whether that is the reality or not remains to be seen."

Mr Albertson said the sales would be hard to predict with the state of the economy but he thought lower petrol prices and tax cuts had helped fatten wallets. And while sales meant bargains for shoppers, they could mean stress for retailers.

If shoppers don't come it would not necessarily mean there could be even better sales in the new year.

"It depends entirely how they're placed. You can only discount so far."

Despite the uncertainty, he believed retailers were upbeat.

"They are probably the most positive people on earth - they have to be."

- NZ Herald

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