Retailers busy as nationwide spending up 7.7 per cent on the same time last year.

Western 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 in fast or risk missing out on what they really want.

Last year's Paymark Boxing day figures for Bay of Plenty showed shoppers splurged $8.7 million on sales, up 9.7 per cent from the previous year.


Figures released for the first two weeks of December show Bay shoppers have already spent $140.3 million in the pre-Christmas rush, and $2.2 billion has been spent nationwide - up 7.7 per cent from the same time last year.

Tauranga woman Linda Carroll was yesterday scouring the city for Christmas presents for her children and extended family.

Christmas Day would be spent with about 13 members of her extended family and she had to buy small gifts for each of them.

Buying such a large number of presents was an expensive exercise but she had hunted out some bargains.

By the time the Bay of Plenty Times spoke to her early in the afternoon she had already been to the Owens Place Shopping Centre, Mount Maunganui shops and Fraser Cove.

The mother of three only started her Christmas shopping on Wednesday but already had most of it done.

"If you buy too early the kids find your presents and shake them around and don't get surprised."

Stores like The Warehouse offered plenty of bargains and affordable gift options, she said.

Mrs Carroll said the shops had not been too busy but shop assistants told her they expected the rush to really begin at the weekend when many people finished work. While the stores were not too bad the roads were already "crazy", she said.

Bayfair Shopping Centre manager Steve Ellingford said the start of December had been very positive.

"We've had a great run into Christmas for the last four months."

November sales were up 10.2 per cent on last year, he said.

"That's fantastic growth and it feels the same for December.

"People seem very confident and foot traffic is strong."

Last year 36,000 people shopped at the mall on Boxing Day, and he expected a similar result this year.

Although shops were already discounting goods, shoppers could still expect plenty of good bargains on the day.

"The economy now is a lot stronger than last year. Discounting is in the market place, we know that, but it'll be no different to last year.

"I'm expecting it to be a big boost for the centre."

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."