It's Hunger Games 2 today - be careful. Not in Bay cinemas but on Bay streets.

If you thought Christmas was stressful, try joining today's race for the racks in the Boxing Day sales.

Natalie Dixon reports on page 3 that retailers are gearing up for hoards of shoppers with discounts of up to 70 per cent being offered on everything from kettles to Karen Walker.

This year the sales had a dry run in the run up to Christmas. Last week we reported that retailers adopted a trend for pre-Christmas discounting, prompting the New Zealand Retailers Association to warn shoppers to get in fast or risk missing out.


The Association was spot on, if my own pre-Christmas experience is anything to go by. The Warehouse suddenly halved the price of a giant bear I had my eye on.

My partner and I raced there only to find several other bear-hungry shoppers. He managed to grab the legs of the last one but as he was pulling it out of the drum a woman grabbed its head.

I thought of shouting "Fire!" but luckily the woman spotted another bear to ensnare.

While we may complain at the stress, discounts are good news all round. There are some real bargains to be had and if you follow our advice on page 3, you can emerge from the sales relatively unscathed.

Full carparks and hoards of bargain hunters are great news for retailers who have been doing it tough in recent years. On Christmas Eve we reported that Western Bay retailers were upbeat as in December shoppers in the region have splashed out millions of dollars more than the same period last year, with Paymark figures showing an increase of 6.6 per cent from last year.

It may be too presumptuous to say that consumer confidence is back. But seeing the shoppers circling full carparks in the likes of Fraser Cove and Bayfair, and struggling to find any park downtown certainly challenges the sentiment that online is winning out over on-street shopping.

The pre-Christmas rush and the Boxing Day crowds are indisputable evidence that retail is alive and well.

For those like me who view shopping as a competitive sport, on-street shopping will always win out over online.

Retail is alive and well today in the Bay. Long may it last into 2014 and beyond.